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Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? #2742457
06/06/18 07:59 AM
06/06/18 07:59 AM
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pianoloverus Offline OP
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A posting on my Facebook page from Verhnjak Pianos said:
I just heard Steinway & Sons will not allow Decals Unlimited to sell any Steinway fallboard or soundboard decals to piano rebuilders. We have used their decals for as long as I can remember. I have also been told Steinway will not sell them either. This is very upsetting.

Does anyone know the meaning of this situation? Why would Steinway do this? It sounds like Steinway is trying to prevent rebuilders from making their rebuilds look authentic but I don't really know anything about this so this is just the first thought that came to me.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/06/18 08:00 AM.
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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742476
06/06/18 09:12 AM
06/06/18 09:12 AM
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Chesterfield. MA
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Craig Hair Offline
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Pianoloverus,
I wish I was surprised by this.
It seems that they feel the biggest threat to who they are is who they were.
This is corporate panic; IMHO.
I, just personally, would like to see the paperwork Steinway filed in the renewals of these trademarks every 10 years for the last century or so that would have kept these designs out of the public domain. If they can't show that, it would seem to me that "fair use" would be more than sufficient.

Be well,
Craig


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742484
06/06/18 09:33 AM
06/06/18 09:33 AM
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Georgia, USA
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Last year, I remember reading in the Music Trades that their legal team were pursuing larger non-dealers and rebuilders who prominently display their logo on their websites and in advertising. This seems a logical next step.

Rebuilders: although the fallboard decal is an obvious concern, what percentage of old steinways actually had soundboard decals, originally? It seems like a thing that gets overused, but I’m too young to have seen dozens and dozens of the pre-depression era pianos in original condition.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742486
06/06/18 09:36 AM
06/06/18 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Why would Steinway do this? It sounds like Steinway is trying to prevent rebuilders from making their rebuilds look authentic

I'm guessing that's the answer. They probably don't want to compete with "Steinwas."

Well, we know they don't like to, hence the FUD associated with the Steinwas mantra. But, if this is true, they may have found a very effective way to limit competition.



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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Craig Hair] #2742487
06/06/18 09:41 AM
06/06/18 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Craig Hair
I, just personally, would like to see the paperwork Steinway filed in the renewals of these trademarks every 10 years for the last century or so that would have kept these designs out of the public domain. If they can't show that, it would seem to me that "fair use" would be more than sufficient.

Good points, but even assuming that they haven't properly maintained the trademark (and they may actually have), trademark litigation can be quite expensive. I suspect that it'd be difficult for a rebuilder to take on Steinway's deep pockets. I wonder if there might be some sort of avenue to restore or replace an owner's existing decal, sort of like you can make a backup copy of a recording (although copyright and trademarks are different animals--and I'm certainly no expert in this).


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742493
06/06/18 09:54 AM
06/06/18 09:54 AM
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This has been an issue with decals for Fender guitars. Their logo is quite distinctive, and people have long put bogus Fender decals on imitation Fender headstocks (the distinctive shape of which is also trademarked).

If I'm not mistaken, there are companies that are licensed by Fender to produce Fender shaped replacement necks.

Perhaps in shades of things to come, look how difficult Fender makes it to get a replacement Fender decal:

https://support.fender.com/hc/en-us...ment-decal-for-my-old-Fender-instrument-

But at least Fender will provide you a decal, as long as your guitar is legit and you do it through an authorized Fender service center. I wonder if Steinway would do the same if you had your piano refinished elsewhere.





if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742494
06/06/18 09:56 AM
06/06/18 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Does anyone know the meaning of this situation? Why would Steinway do this? It sounds like Steinway is trying to prevent rebuilders from making their rebuilds look authentic but I don't really know anything about this so this is just the first thought that came to me.


One thing I do find rather ironic or at least humorous amidst the 'authenticity debate', is that Steinway is now putting Victorian era fallboard decals on 80's, 90's, and even post 2000 pianos they have rebuilt to sell.


Benjamin Rogers
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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742495
06/06/18 09:58 AM
06/06/18 09:58 AM
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However, just what are they going to do...sue each and every one of us who makes a Steinway decal and puts it on a Steinway piano?

With today's technology any of us can do it. We simply have used Decals Unlimited because it's convenient and they went to the trouble of duplicating them all. If we are smart we will quickly gather all the materials needed before the foretold expiration, and get set up.to make them ourselves.

Ultimately, I think Steinway is on shaky legal ground under the circumstances, but they are attempting a strong arm tactic to tell us who is boss here. There are ways to deal with this.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742503
06/06/18 10:46 AM
06/06/18 10:46 AM
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Seattle, WA USA
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If Steinway is insisting that their Trademark covers reproduction of original decalomania, and they are using their powers to deter competitors from replacing what was commonly used, there are restraint of trade legal issues that Steinway and possibly Decals Unlimited are now exposed to.

There is no fraud against Steinway when any rebuilder places a duplicate decal on a new soundboard in a rebuilt Steinway piano, unless the rebuilder asserts the piano is original and/or the work was either performed by or the work was authorized or condoned by Steinway.

Rebuilders could band together in a class action restraint of trade case against Steinway and Decals Unlimited. Under US law restraint of trade damages are triple the tort. Plus the litigants get to do discovery and paw through all relevant company materials.

I am not an attorney so don't run to the bank on this. However we may all want to talk about this at the PTG Convention.

I will be contacting Decals Unlimited about this to get there take on it.

Rebuilders who have used reproduction decals may want to attempt to order a new one from Decals Unlimited now and if they refuse ask for their reason in writing with all supporting documents. When they ask why tell them under USTrade law you cannot deny a previous customer what you have provided in the past if doing so is done to restrain their business. Be sure to ask if they still sell their reproduction Steinway decals to Steinway and get that in writing too.


Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 06/06/18 10:50 AM. Reason: add last paragraph

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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742507
06/06/18 11:12 AM
06/06/18 11:12 AM
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I doubt that a case could be made against Decals Unlimited if they choose not to sell a certain kind of decal. Nobody is obligated to sell anything that they don't want to sell. I do think a case could be made against Decals Unlimited if they're producing a trademark that belongs to someone else. And that's probably why the issue has surfaced there. Anyway, if Decals Unlimited is faced by the specter of a lawsuit from Steinway, or a lawsuit from rebuilders, they're going to fear Steinway more. And Decals Unlimited is going to understandably capitulate to the [presumed] trademark holder. For example, Amazon de-lists any items for which they receive copyright or trademark violation complaints. They're not obligated to list anything, and it's easier and cheaper than fighting a lawsuit.

Re. putting a "Steinway" decal on a non-Steinway soundboard, I'm sure that lawyers could probably find some traction there.

I wonder about one-off restoration type work, i.e. replacing the original decal with a duplicate. It would seem to be legitimate, but I don't know the law.

Re. suing everyone, I don't think there are really all that many rebuilding shops around. Steinway probably does have the resources to sue them all. But, I suspect that they'd only have to sue one or two.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742508
06/06/18 11:13 AM
06/06/18 11:13 AM
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Oh, and I agree with Ed on this: If I were in the business of rebuilding Steinways, I'd be stocking up on the decals now.


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742509
06/06/18 11:15 AM
06/06/18 11:15 AM
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Well, just for grins I visited Decals Unlimited. A search for "Steinway" returns 54 decals.

https://www.decalsunlimited.com/apps/omega-search/?q=steinway#q=steinway

So, apparently they're still selling them.

I put 100 standard Steinway fallboard decals into the cart and proceeded to checkout (but stopped there, of course). Didn't see any warnings or problems.


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742519
06/06/18 12:11 PM
06/06/18 12:11 PM
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Melbourne, Australia
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I doubt Steinway would get much traction with suing people who supply decals because there is no proof of intent to misrepresent the Steinway brand. Who knows if a buyer is buying Steinway decals to do a refinish on the case or soundboard, or whether they are putting them on non-Steinway boards, or even non-Steinway pianos? It's really not Decals Unlimited's responsibility to police the rebuilders or refinishers. It's up to Steinway to prove that Steinway decals have been applied to non-Steinway components or pianos. If they start down that road, what's next: sue rebuilders who change anything about a Steinway and sell it with the original Steinway labelling? It's not like you could be expected to grind off the plate lettering, is it? What next after that: sue people who rebuild a Steinway and fail to put a Steinway decal on it, or put another name on it? Where does it end? I think it just ends, life's too short. This is going nowhere.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Retsacnal] #2742524
06/06/18 12:31 PM
06/06/18 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Well, just for grins I visited Decals Unlimited. A search for "Steinway" returns 54 decals.

https://www.decalsunlimited.com/apps/omega-search/?q=steinway#q=steinway

So, apparently they're still selling them.

I put 100 standard Steinway fallboard decals into the cart and proceeded to checkout (but stopped there, of course). Didn't see any warnings or problems.


Last I heard, they will be sold until sometime in the fall.


Benjamin Rogers
Media Director
Chupp's Piano Service, Inc. - Piano Restorations, Kawai Dealer
www.ChuppsPianos.com
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742534
06/06/18 12:59 PM
06/06/18 12:59 PM
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I was reading something the other day about authors trademarking words in the context of their series titles. The words can be trademarked, and also words in specific fonts for branding, etc. Don't forget that Steinway was able to stop Grotrian-Steinweg from using "Steinweg" in their name in the USA. And Steinweg isn't exactly Steinway.

I can't help but think that if Steinway owns the trademark of their name (and I assume that they do), and logos, etc, that they could insist that Decals Unlimited stop producing them, especially if they're selling them (which they are). By this line of logic, Decals Unlimited is producing Steinway's trademarks for profit. And they may not have the right to do so.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742538
06/06/18 01:08 PM
06/06/18 01:08 PM
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It looks like they have live trademarks on "Steinway," "Steinway & Sons," and "S&S," among others.

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showf...h=Submit+Query&a_search=Submit+Query



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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742544
06/06/18 01:26 PM
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Doesn't this have to potential to impact a huge portion of Decal Unlimited's business? I'd think that if a precedence is set with Steinway it could impact all of the other decals they sell for various instrument makers.

There's got to be a legal solution. When I have to have body work done on my vehicle after an accident, I might choose to use aftermarket body panels, etc., due to cost and what my insurance will cover, but the repair shop can still put the original manufacturer's emblems on the body panels where appropriate. I've worked in some industries where we had to pay licensing and royalty fees to the trademark owners, like in sports team clothing, etc. I'd think the Steinway decal issue would be covered under those types of agreements.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742557
06/06/18 01:48 PM
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Steinway sells the brass lettering, but it is not cheap. The original decals are not available, because the paper used with them is no longer made. The rub-on decals are not what was used originally.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742577
06/06/18 02:59 PM
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Perhaps a letter to Steinway is in order to find out what their position is on the matter.

Pwg


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742600
06/06/18 04:30 PM
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I've had a very long conversation with Avery at Decals Unlimited. They received a letter from Steinway lawyers ending their 20 year licence to produce and sell Steinway Decals. They will be able to sell Steinway Decals till September 27th 2018. After that date Steinway decals will no longer be available. They will continue to make decals for Steinway for models that do not use the brass decals and for the Steinway restoration department.
They are not happy with the situation and there is nothing that can be done about it.
Steinway has no plans on selling decals either.
So this as of now is the end of what has been,
I guess the next step for Steinway is to have all the cast iron plates ground down where they say Steinway and show all the patents.
We figured out if one ordered one of every decal, Decals Unlimited has to offer for Steinway that would cost $3,716.00 So if you want a collection better get on it before it will not be available. I feel bad for Decals Unlimited as they have put years into their production an offerings of Steinway decals. They are beautiful and correct.
Sad.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742607
06/06/18 04:50 PM
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So in the future, once a Steinway is rebuilt it will no longer be a Steinway - unless it is restored by Steinway themselves.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742611
06/06/18 04:59 PM
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What will all of the above mean for Steinway rebuilders? Will they rebuild Steinways but no longer be able to put decals on the fallboard and soundboard?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/06/18 05:00 PM.
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Carey] #2742613
06/06/18 05:00 PM
06/06/18 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Carey
So in the future, once a Steinway is rebuilt it will no longer be a Steinway - unless it is restored by Steinway themselves.



It will still be a Steinway but have no decal on the fallboard and if it had one on the soundboard that will not be present either.

Most likely we will still see Steinways with fallboard decals but not period correct ones. Perhaps just the current design as I doubt anyone will go through the trouble of making all the ones that have been available for the last 25+ years.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742614
06/06/18 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus

What will all of the above mean for Steinway rebuilders? Will they rebuild Steinways but no longer be able to put decals on the fallboard and soundboard?


Most likely.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Rod Verhnjak] #2742646
06/06/18 06:44 PM
06/06/18 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Rod Verhnjak
Originally Posted by pianoloverus

What will all of the above mean for Steinway rebuilders? Will they rebuild Steinways but no longer be able to put decals on the fallboard and soundboard?


Most likely.
I'm confused because your previous post said we would likely still see Steinways with decals(but probably not the historically correct ones).

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742649
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So...is the prohibition on the word "Steinway", "STEINWAY", or is the prohibition on a carefully reproduced COPY of a Steinway decal?

Point being...could the word Steinway, in a font and style that "Steinway" never used in history, be put on a Steinway fallboard?

Or should the word "Steinway" now be changed to "A Piano Made in New York", AND be stricken from our vocabulary and writings, lest it be uttered in violation of Steinway' s trademark?

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 06/06/18 07:02 PM.

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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742651
06/06/18 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Rod Verhnjak
Originally Posted by pianoloverus

What will all of the above mean for Steinway rebuilders? Will they rebuild Steinways but no longer be able to put decals on the fallboard and soundboard?


Most likely.
I'm confused because your previous post said we would likely still see Steinways with decals(but probably not the historically correct ones).



I'm sure some will find other sources for decals and these sources will not be able to offer all the designs. They may be more like stickers or dry slides.
That's my thought on what may happen. Even I have brass ones in stock and old varnish transfer ones as well. But the varnish transfer ones are not a nice as what we have been getting from Decals Unlimited for 20 years and in only one style.

The question is will Steinway start going after pianos restorers after September 27th if they apply a decal on a Steinway. And if they do is it against a law now to do so.
Steinways have enough info on the plate to say it's a Steinway why would a sticker on the front be an infringement?

I guess we will see.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: P W Grey] #2742652
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
So...is the prohibition on the word "Steinway", "STEINWAY", or is the prohibition on a carefully reproduced COPY of a Steinway decal?

Point being...could the word Steinway, in a font and style that "Steinway" never used in history, be put on a Steinway fallboard?

Or should the word "Steinway" now be changed to "A Piano Made in New York", AND be stricken from our vocabulary and writings, lest it be uttered in violation of Steinway' s trademark?

Pwg


I'm not sure. Decal Unlimited offers around 40 different fallboard decals and 10 soundboard decals from different eras. Steinway currently uses one style of brass lettering and their current production and on a few special models Decals Unlimited produces a decal for Steinway to use. Like for the John Lennon model.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742657
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So if you want to get your Steinway refinished, you have to send it to Steinway in order to get the correct decals? This seems very similar to the VW smart key Class Action Lawsuit.

Hopefully Bob Snyder will weigh in on this.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742669
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I wonder if Steinway sells replacement fallboards?

On a serious note, I had a feeling that this was a serious effort to put the kibosh on Steinway rebuilding. Of course, Steinway has every right to protect their trademarks.

There are always loopholes, though. For example, I can't imagine that it would violate a trademark to accurately label something. I could see something like this:


STEINWAY & SONS
Model B, Manufactured in Astoria, New York, 1955
Restored by ClavioCraft, Washington, DC 2018



Or perhaps a "museum quality" engraved metal plaque on the fallboard with the same info.

Surely it can't be illegal to restore something.

Perhaps the logos can be restored by hand, with appropriate colored paints. If you had a logo and name before the restoration, then you ought to be able to preserve or restore it. Right?

Of course, I'm not a lawyer.

I've seen hackneyed refinish jobs, where people didn't know they could get a new decal, and have left a rectangular shape around the original decal unstripped. Perhaps a logo could be more painstakingly salvaged in this way, but up close, right up to the edge of the lettering. I'm not sure how spraying poly over old varnish or lacquer might work, but ...

Another option, of course, is to just rebuild pianos without refinishing them. Personally, I like an aged finish on a piano.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742687
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It's all very tedious. As a company, Steinway strikes me as simultaneously arrogant and insecure.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: ando] #2742696
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Originally Posted by ando
It's all very tedious. As a company, Steinway strikes me as simultaneously arrogant and insecure.
Actually, arrogance and insecurity usually go hand in hand. grin


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742698
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I remember when Decals Unlimited started and I was with Fred Drasche, (longtime head tone-regulator at NY S&S) when we walked up to their display at the PTG Convention. Fred thought it wonderful that we now had these dry transfer decals, so much easier to use than the varnish transfer ones.

With the low cost high quality printers now available, technicians could acquire the appropriate artwork in a digital file and have it printed themselves as needed. Steinway could not stop that as long as you didn't pass off a piano or your work as being officially Steinway.


Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 06/06/18 10:43 PM. Reason: typo

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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742767
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I'm thinking about purchasing the decals while they're still available for mine for future use, just in case.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2742769
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT


With the low cost high quality printers now available, technicians could acquire the appropriate artwork in a digital file and have it printed themselves as needed. Steinway could not stop that as long as you didn't pass off a piano or your work as being officially Steinway.



I think this is the key answer to the problem.

Steinway?? Being arrogant???

What's new?


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742788
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The problem is when lawyers start analyzing the situation and then start issuing warnings. I'm sure that the official position will circle around the idea of preventing Steinway decals from being put on non-steinway pianos and being passed off as Steinway. In the eyes of a lawyer, the ONLY way to prevent that is to restrict ALL access to the decal (commercially). I suspect that they don't really have an issue with honest rebuilders...only the dishonest sales of fraudulently labeled units...but they cannot see any other way to deal with it.

Pwg


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: P W Grey] #2742793
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
The problem is when lawyers start analyzing the situation and then start issuing warnings. I'm sure that the official position will circle around the idea of preventing Steinway decals from being put on non-steinway pianos and being passed off as Steinway. In the eyes of a lawyer, the ONLY way to prevent that is to restrict ALL access to the decal (commercially). I suspect that they don't really have an issue with honest rebuilders...only the dishonest sales of fraudulently labeled units...but they cannot see any other way to deal with it.

Pwg


However this action does not solve the problem. Such an unscrupulous person would simply copy an image off the internet, buy a blank decal and make their own.

Just like the honest rebuilders will on their rebuilt Steinways!


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742798
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Correct.

Pwg


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742803
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I think this position will only hurt Steinway's image among those who would love to someday own a Steinway but can only afford a used or rebuilt one, like myself! A quality rebuild, like many of the rebuilders here on PW do, with the official logo on it can only add value to the Steinway reputation and brand value. In fact, when I walked into a rebuilder's shop and played about 15 nice Steinway pianos of all sizes I was quite impressed. It was nice to see that they all had the official, period-correct, S&S emblem on the fallboard. I could tell that they were all Steinway pianos b/c they each had a Steinway plate along with other indicators. It doesn't take too much education to become aware of what is a potential fake and what is real in a Steinway.

On the other hand, when I walk into the local S&S Gallery and the only well-prepared pianos are the C&A instruments ... that is what hurts Steinway's reputation.

Just my .02, as Rickster would say.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742806
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My 1922 Steinway Model O's original logo-ing was decidedly unimpressive. The fallboard had a 4" long logo, which consisted of an image of a small lyre and underneath that the words "Steinway & Sons" in a small font. There was no decal on the soundboard.

After restoration by Steinway Restoration Center in NYC, the fallboard has a glorious Steinway decal. But the soundboard? Nothing.

John


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: jcgee88] #2742813
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Originally Posted by jcgee88
My 1922 Steinway Model O's original logo-ing was decidedly unimpressive. The fallboard had a 4" long logo, which consisted of an image of a small lyre and underneath that the words "Steinway & Sons" in a small font. There was no decal on the soundboard.

After restoration by Steinway Restoration Center in NYC, the fallboard has a glorious Steinway decal. But the soundboard? Nothing.

John


Recent production Steinways don't have soundboard decals anyway. I don't know how long ago they started (not) doing this, but neither of mine has it. Both have the original soundboards.

There are definitely buyers of Steinway who care for these logos; I suspect Steinway does this to discourage rebuilding outside their own facility.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: jcgee88] #2742816
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Originally Posted by jcgee88
My 1922 Steinway Model O's original logo-ing was decidedly unimpressive. The fallboard had a 4" long logo, which consisted of an image of a small lyre and underneath that the words "Steinway & Sons" in a small font. There was no decal on the soundboard.

After restoration by Steinway Restoration Center in NYC, the fallboard has a glorious Steinway decal. But the soundboard? Nothing.

John


I would agree, the newer 'Steinway & Sons' fallboard decal is (in my opinion) much nicer than the smaller ones they were applying during the early to mid-20th century.

On another related subject, it is interesting how haphazard Steinway's 'officially' rebuilt pianos are in regards to their logo-ing. For example, they have a 1967 Model B for sale on their site with a Victorian style fallboard decal and an early soundboard decal applied. The cynical side of me thinks they are doing this deliberately, in order to differentiate their 'restored' products from their new production.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742825
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The wrong soundboard decal on a piano could be a violation of the royal warrant.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Retsacnal] #2742841
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
I wonder if Steinway sells replacement fallboards?

On a serious note, I had a feeling that this was a serious effort to put the kibosh on Steinway rebuilding. Of course, Steinway has every right to protect their trademarks.

There are always loopholes, though. For example, I can't imagine that it would violate a trademark to accurately label something. I could see something like this:


STEINWAY & SONS
Model B, Manufactured in Astoria, New York, 1955
Restored by ClavioCraft, Washington, DC 2018



Or perhaps a "museum quality" engraved metal plaque on the fallboard with the same info.

Surely it can't be illegal to restore something.

Perhaps the logos can be restored by hand, with appropriate colored paints. If you had a logo and name before the restoration, then you ought to be able to preserve or restore it. Right?

Of course, I'm not a lawyer.

I've seen hackneyed refinish jobs, where people didn't know they could get a new decal, and have left a rectangular shape around the original decal unstripped. Perhaps a logo could be more painstakingly salvaged in this way, but up close, right up to the edge of the lettering. I'm not sure how spraying poly over old varnish or lacquer might work, but ...

Another option, of course, is to just rebuild pianos without refinishing them. Personally, I like an aged finish on a piano.



I totally agree with you. If the decals were easily available wouldn't it lead to more counterfeit Steinways? Shouldn't they only be made available to technicians certified by Steinway to rebuild their pianos?

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 06/07/18 02:05 PM.

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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Lakeviewsteve] #2742850
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Originally Posted by Lakeviewsteve
I totally agree with you. If the decals were easily available wouldn't it lead to more counterfeit Steinways? Shouldn't they only be made available to technicians certified by Steinway to rebuild their pianos?


The only problem with this is that according to Steinway, NO ONE ELSE is authorize to rebuild their pianos. I don't see them "authorizing" anyone else to do it, no matter how high the quality of the work and materials.

Last edited by GC13; 06/07/18 03:03 PM.
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Lakeviewsteve] #2742854
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Originally Posted by Lakeviewsteve

I totally agree with you. If the decals were easily available wouldn't it lead to more counterfeit Steinways? Shouldn't they only be made available to technicians certified by Steinway to rebuild their pianos?


What is the definition of a 'counterfeit' Steinway? Therein lies the ongoing battle between piano rebuilder and Steinway corporate.

Last edited by BenjaminR; 06/07/18 03:08 PM.

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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: ando] #2742858
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Originally Posted by ando
It's all very tedious. As a company, Steinway strikes me as simultaneously arrogant and insecure.



Precisely. Speaking only for myself, it's off-putting. Of course, their whole cachet based marketing scheme is off-putting to me.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742879
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Some states have "right to repair" laws on the books and some other states have "right to repair" laws being legislated. These are geared towards companies such as Apple, John Deere and other who apparently go to great lengths to stop main street type repair shops from working on their products. I don't see any difference in this and Steinway trying to interrupt the rebuild business by trying to keep their labels out of the hands of rebuilders, IF this is indeed what Steinway is trying to do.

If so, then perhaps it's time to contact your legislators, both on the state and national level. Why should I have to send my piano back to Steinway just to get it refinished?

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742898
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While I too join the chorus of those criticizing Steinway's many marketing ploys,

However I must admit, as a marketing consultant specializing on marketing pianos in North America, I only wish I could claim to be the creator of Steinway's marketing over the past 100 years.

A real pain in the ass....but none the less brilliant.

You gotta hand it to them.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742906
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I would expect if suddenly stickers became unavailable in the states this would spawn businesses overseas where they really don't care about copyright laws. The same countries that would sell you and authentic Rolex watch for about $20.

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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Steve Cohen] #2742909
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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
While I too join the chorus of those criticizing Steinway's many marketing ploys,

However I must admit, as a marketing consultant specializing on marketing pianos in North America, I only wish I could claim to be the creator of Steinway's marketing over the past 100 years.

A real pain in the ass....but none the less brilliant.

You gotta hand it to them.


There might be some aspects of brilliance at Steinway, but this particular aspect is not: In fact, I don't think it even fits under the banner of marketing. It's intimidatory, anti-competitive, and according to DanS' post above, possibly even illegal (right to repair, restraint of trade etc).

One thing's for sure, if I ever get my inherited Steinway K refinished, I will not be sending it across the Pacific Ocean to have Steinway apply one of their fancy stickers. I will source one myself. They don't even have a refurbishing centre on my continent. I think that exemplifies the silliness of all this.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742910
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Steinway owns their trademarks, and can decide how they can be used. We do not know at this point whether Steinway will opt to offer decals in the future, or make a deal with another supplier.


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Image a similar scenario, but in the automotive field..

You buy a early 70s Camaro that is completely trashed. You rebuild the engine, have the interior redone, exterior painted; a 100% restoration job. HOWEVER, you can't get any of the decals or emblems because Chevrolet won't allow them to be sold. You COULD have sent your car back to Chevrolet to have the work done, and then you'd be able to have the decals and emblems. However, Chevrolet doesn't want to sell these decals or emblems to the public. Why?

Are they afraid that people might be restoring Ford Mavericks and putting Z28 decals on them? How much money could they possible be losing to this sort of scam? "We'll I was going to buy a brand new car, but I bought this 40 year old restored Maverick that I thought was a Camaro..." That person was not about buy a brand new Camero!

More likely, the reason why has more to do with too much competition with restored Camaros. They'd probably even start a campaign calling any Camero not restored by Chevrolet a CamerNO. I bet Chevy would receive more than a few Cease and Desist letters if they did!!

I can't image the automotive industry trying to get away with only allowing their cars to be worked on by dealerships. (As I stated in an earlier post, VW lost a Class Action Lawsuit because you could only get replacement keys from dealerships). However, it seems some industries are trying to move in this direction. Hopefully this isn't what Steinway is trying to do.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742921
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Once a piano is out of warranty, Steinway has very no right to control what a piano owner does with their piano, or what a piano technician does, or what a refinisher does.

Since it is generally recognized in the industry that the greatest competition for new Steinway's is used Steinway's; when Steinway acts to restrict it's competition from serving their clients they must be very cautious. The fine piano market may be considered a bit of a monopoly, especially concert grands. Once an actor in a market niche achieves monopoly status the rules regarding how that actor may operate become full of restrictions. Especially since Steinway operates a full rebuild shop in addition to making new pianos.

Actions Steinway takes to reduce competition by restricting how technicians/rebuilders serve their clients or ready used Steinway's for the market can have restraint of trade issues. If one loses a restraint of trade tort, the damages are tripled.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: DanS] #2742977
06/08/18 08:29 AM
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It's called intellectual property. They are protecting theirs.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: GC13] #2742978
06/08/18 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by GC13
Originally Posted by Lakeviewsteve
I totally agree with you. If the decals were easily available wouldn't it lead to more counterfeit Steinways? Shouldn't they only be made available to technicians certified by Steinway to rebuild their pianos?


The only problem with this is that according to Steinway, NO ONE ELSE is authorize to rebuild their pianos. I don't see them "authorizing" anyone else to do it, no matter how high the quality of the work and materials.


I agree and think you hit the nail on the head.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: BDB] #2742982
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Originally Posted by BDB
Steinway owns their trademarks, and can decide how they can be used. We do not know at this point whether Steinway will opt to offer decals in the future, or make a deal with another supplier.


Maybe we'll see Steinway offer decals for sale to technicians and rebuilders (probably at a higher price!) once the relationship with Decals Unlimited ends this Fall. They sell just about everything else -- minus items like soundboards. Maybe they'll require a serial number or something as proof to try to verify that the decal is truly going on a Steinway instrument. Just thinking out-loud here.

Maybe these are ideas that could be presented to Steinway in the event that the decals are truly unavailable to independent rebuilders once the relationship between Steinway and Decals Unlimited expires.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: GC13] #2743039
06/08/18 12:46 PM
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Even the fact that they do not sell soundboards may not be because they do not want to, but because they feel their process of installation is part of the authentic soundboard, and they cannot guarantee that someone else will be able to duplicate it.

Apple has trouble with people going to third parties to replace iPhone screens. The unauthorized replacement screens then stop working when Apple updates the software, and people claim that Apple is keeping them from going someplace else to get their phones fixed. Well, that ends up with Apple being blamed for what other people do, and that is really not their responsibility. They have to revise their software for other people's mistakes, and that ends up costing everyone who buys their products more.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: Lakeviewsteve] #2743057
06/08/18 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Lakeviewsteve
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
I wonder if Steinway sells replacement fallboards?

On a serious note, I had a feeling that this was a serious effort to put the kibosh on Steinway rebuilding. Of course, Steinway has every right to protect their trademarks.

There are always loopholes, though. For example, I can't imagine that it would violate a trademark to accurately label something. I could see something like this:


STEINWAY & SONS
Model B, Manufactured in Astoria, New York, 1955
Restored by ClavioCraft, Washington, DC 2018



Or perhaps a "museum quality" engraved metal plaque on the fallboard with the same info.

Surely it can't be illegal to restore something.

Perhaps the logos can be restored by hand, with appropriate colored paints. If you had a logo and name before the restoration, then you ought to be able to preserve or restore it. Right?

Of course, I'm not a lawyer.

I've seen hackneyed refinish jobs, where people didn't know they could get a new decal, and have left a rectangular shape around the original decal unstripped. Perhaps a logo could be more painstakingly salvaged in this way, but up close, right up to the edge of the lettering. I'm not sure how spraying poly over old varnish or lacquer might work, but ...

Another option, of course, is to just rebuild pianos without refinishing them. Personally, I like an aged finish on a piano.



I totally agree with you. If the decals were easily available wouldn't it lead to more counterfeit Steinways? Shouldn't they only be made available to technicians certified by Steinway to rebuild their pianos?


I wasn't really thinking of counterfeits, and doubt they put much of a dent in Steinway's business.

I'm in the camp that would like to see rebuilders and refinishers able to authentically label the pianos that they refinish. However, like I and others have noted, these are legitimately Steinway's trademarks, and I believe they have the right to protect them.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, and the law can be a complex thing.

Above it was made clear that Decals Unlimited (DU) is losing their license to produce these decals. That's already an acknowledgement that they don't have the right to produce them without permission. Neither does anyone else.

Legalzoom has some interesting articles about trademark infringement, and avoiding it. That's where I got the idea above about specifically labeling the work. On the surface, it doesn't seem wrong to re-label something with the label that it already had. But who has the right to produce the trademark?

I wouldn't want to be the first person in line for a lawsuit with the defense of "I used to buy these from DU, and now I'm making them myself." Steinway will likely crush them like a bug. Clearly, DU can't produce the trademark without permission, and neither can any one else. Even if someone claims it's "free." "I'm charging to refinish the piano, but the decal is 'free'," it'd likely be ruled a quid-pro-quo part of the deal. I mean, who wants a Steinway that doesn't say "Steinway?"

Again, it would seem reasonable to reapply a Steinway decal when refinishing a Steinway. After all, if it was a Steinway before it was refinished, then it's a Steinway after it's refinished. At least to normal people. But, as others have pointed out, Steinway operates their own restoration shop, and they can argue that when others rebuild or refinish Steinways, and apply an exact replica of a Steinway decal, that it confuses potential buyers, who might think it's an actual Steinway rebuild when it's not. And they have a long history of claiming that only they can authentically rebuild a Steinway. And don't forget that they were able to prohibit Grotrian-Steinweg from using "Steinweg," claiming it confused Steinway costumers, when it's not even spelled the same way.

Anyway, that's why I suggested embellishing the label with "accurate" information. My gut feeling is that accurately and authentically relabeling it as to what it is is a reasonable use (or what they call "functional"), and that specifically adding that it was rebuilt/restored/refinished by someone else nullifies the "confusion" argument.

My gut feeling is that even something this simple would be reasonable:


STEINWAY & SONS
Restored by Funningham, Filadelphia, PA 2018


Or, even put the "Restored by..." label on the lower right of the fallboard, where they put the "Designed by..." label.

But, again, I'm not a lawyer. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. I'm rooting for the rebuilders.


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743059
06/08/18 03:14 PM
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If I owned S&S, and if it was clear that there is a lot of value in the trademark (must be true since no other company’s restored 100 yo pianos fetch anywhere near as much), and if I was a hard nosed capitalist, I would:

1. Stop selling Steinway parts to non Steinway certified technicians
2. Stop selling Steinway decals to non Steinway certified technicians
3. Have strict guidelines about using Steinway parts by the Steinway certified technicians
4. Charge a few grand a year to technicians to maintain certified status
5. Start marketing against old pianos not restored by Steinway certified technicians


It’s just good business. If restored Steinways become more rare and expensive, more prestige in the brand. Win-win.

I’ve read somewhere that in Germany, if a piano has its sound board replaced, it is no longer considered the same piano, so the name on the fallboard must removed. I’m sure S&S’s owners might also think that’s a good idea. Maybe they will get a law passed in their favor as well.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743060
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I recall reading or hearing that in other countries (I think the UK) when a rebuilder replaces the soundboard, they can no longer label the piano with the original manufacturers trademarks. It really seems only fair that a rebuilt instrument should be labeled as such to keep down confusion, depending upon the scope of the rebuild.

The original manufacturers name is cast into the plate, and the serial numbers and case numbers can all be traced back to Steinway-built instruments in their records, so Steinway really can't divorce itself too far from the rebuilds by third parties. I understand why they don't sell soundboards to rebuilders, and I could understand why they might want to verify the abilities of 3rd party technicians to whom they might sell parts or decals.

I know this topic is getting a lot of traction here on PW, but think about all of the techs and rebuilders out there who aren't on PW. They're going to be really surprised in a few weeks when they can no longer order decals.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743067
06/08/18 03:30 PM
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There are a few things we don't know:

1) The specific wording of the license agreement with DU.

2) The specific wording of the revocation of that agreement.

3) Whether or not Steinway feels that DU did not live up to that agreement. (I am not casting aspersions or trying to accuse anyone of anything here...simply stating a fact as far as I know).

4) Precisely the reason(s) why Steinway is not going to renew it.

5) Precisely what they intend to do about it in the future, or what they may already be doing but not telling anyone yet (including DU).

6) Whether or not they intend to litigate anything or anyone.


Here are a few things that make sense to me:

1) It does not seem realistic for Steinway to even attempt to corner the entire rebuilding market worldwide. I just cannot see it.

2) It does not seem realistic to sue every single person who might put a decal on one of their pianos.

3) From a legal standpoint it DOES make some sense to lay the legal basis (protecting their "trademark") so as to have a legal leg to stand on in court if and when they do decide to go after someone who is fraudulently applying decals to non-steinway products, since one of the first questions any fair-minded judge is going to have is: "Exactly what have you DONE to protect your trademark?"

This may be a first step in that direction to be followed by others.

They may have hired a new lawyer who looked at the situation and said: "Uhhh, we need to do something about this..." (just speculating of course).

Anyway, this is what I am thinking about this at the moment. Feel free to disagree.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743069
06/08/18 03:35 PM
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I don't see what the big deal is here.
Steinway doesn't have to sell decals of their trademarks to anyone if they don't want to.

Restricting the sale of decals is not the same as trying to restrict what can be done to their pianos after sale. Anybody can do whatever they want to the piano, it just may be harder to buy a decal for it.

A quick search of the USPTO database shows that they are definitely maintaining their trademarks

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/







Last edited by spk; 06/08/18 03:37 PM.
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743128
06/08/18 09:58 PM
06/08/18 09:58 PM
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If a person owns a used Steinway piano, they have every right to restore every detail of the piano to any state they see fit including applying appropriate decalomania. Steinway has no right to restrict anyone in business supplying to customers, and/or applying said decalomania beyond requiring the full disclosure that they are not original or "certified" from Steinway Co.

Steinway products are not copyrighted works of art that allow the producer to retain certain rights over how they are treated. They might be able to sustain a copyright of this nature on custom art cases, but standard production items I don't think will support a claim like this.

When one orders a reproduction soundboard decal for a Steinway piano, Decals Unlimited includes a disclosure that warns the purchaser they must not affix this decal to any non-Steinway origin or original part. Many rebuilders do not accept these terms, but no cases against them have ever been brought as far as I know.

Steinway can believe and promote that only they are capable of restoring a Steinway to original intent, but the evidence amply shows otherwise. Steinway does not have exclusive rights to rebuild Steinway pianos and I very much doubt they want to sacrifice the lucrative parts business they have supplying rebuilders by eliminating this part of their business.

So the company push on the decal issue looks very much like an attempt to restrain trade, but not a clear cut case. They have to weigh whether the bad press and possibility a case may be strong enough to gain court acceptance and thus open the door to discovery is worth the effort.

Rebuilders may abandon all Steinway part purchases as a way to retaliate. There are many outside parts available for Steinway pianos now, and this may grow because of this stance.


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: ando] #2743272
06/09/18 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
While I too join the chorus of those criticizing Steinway's many marketing ploys,

However I must admit, as a marketing consultant specializing on marketing pianos in North America, I only wish I could claim to be the creator of Steinway's marketing over the past 100 years.

A real pain in the ass....but none the less brilliant.

You gotta hand it to them.


There might be some aspects of brilliance at Steinway, but this particular aspect is not: In fact, I don't think it even fits under the banner of marketing. It's intimidatory, anti-competitive, and according to DanS' post above, possibly even illegal (right to repair, restraint of trade etc).

One thing's for sure, if I ever get my inherited Steinway K refinished, I will not be sending it across the Pacific Ocean to have Steinway apply one of their fancy stickers. I will source one myself. They don't even have a refurbishing centre on my continent. I think that exemplifies the silliness of all this.

I agree 100%.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743282
06/09/18 07:19 PM
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Up until a few years ago Steinway was a publicly traded Company and you could buy their stock on the open market but was bought out by an investment banking firm. Could this have anything to do with it? Maybe the new owners have their eyes more focused on legal matters than before?

Steve


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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2744286
06/14/18 12:38 AM
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I would be surprised if Steinway was concerned about their reputation with people who aren't paying Steinway for Steinway stuff. And Steinway doesn't have to absorb the entirety of all rebuilding to come out ahead. They only need to increase their rebuilding to come out ahead. And if others can't put accurate looking decals on their Steinway rebuilds, then some number of on-the-fence people will take the plunge and go through Steinway.

Restricting the supply of decals in this way will push the value of Steinways upward by restricting the number of "Steinways" in the marketplace. In that their biggest competitor is existing Steinways, restricting access to the decals will limit that competition, lower the supply of complementary products in the marketplace, and increase the value of everything going through the official Steinway pipeline, new, rebuilt or second hand.

BTW, I see this strategy also increasing the value of older Baldwin Artist models. smile


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2744532
06/14/18 09:16 PM
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As I understand it, DU had a license from Steinway to reproduce decals. Presumably, DU paid for that license in some way (royalties or otherwise). That’s because the decal was of Steinway intellectual property. Based on what I read here, it seems that Steinway is not renewing their license.

I didn’t see anyone say that Steinway is prohibiting anyone from repairing, rebuilding, or restoring a Steinway, or from even referring it to a Steinway once re-(whatever)ed.

I just saw that Steinway is not renewing thei decal vendor’s license.

That’s certainly within their rights, and doesn’t restrict trade or violate right-to-repair laws or anything. It just prevents someone from reproducing their intellectual property (the decal).

Personally, I think that if as a side-effect of this, piano rebuilders started labeling rebuilds with *their name* as someone suggested above (i.e. Steinway & Sons Model X, rebuild by Company Y), then I’d think that the quality rebuilders would be happy. Prohibited from getting replica decals, they would instead have the opportunity to put their name on the fall board next to Steinway’s, and be known for the quality work that they do, even as their rebuild is resold.

(Now if Steinway were to push to prohibit you from even calling it a Steinway once you’ve done a certain amount of work to it, well, that’s a bigger problem.)

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: NYSteve] #2744713
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Originally Posted by NYSteve

(Now if Steinway were to push to prohibit you from even calling it a Steinway once you’ve done a certain amount of work to it, well, that’s a bigger problem.)


The name Steinway is cast into the plate, so the piano will always say Steinway. It's just a matter of whether it's on the call board or not.

Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2744730
06/15/18 05:33 PM
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Steinway currently sells standard and "historic" decals (solid brass). True, they are not identical to the old ones, but I suspect they will ultimately say that these are what SHOULD go on the fallboard, so buy them from the parts dept. In theory, this is what THEY would put on if THEY were restoring it, regardless of the age.

Unfortunately it requires much more work to put these on. Oh well...

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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