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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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New York City
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
Joined: May 2006
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Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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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 Iā€™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.



"If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
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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).


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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.





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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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Goshen, Indiana
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BenjaminR Offline
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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
Media Director
Chupp's Piano Service, Inc. - Piano Restorations, Kawai Dealer
www.ChuppsPianos.com
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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New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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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
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
(Best way to contact me privately)
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742503
06/06/18 10:46 AM
06/06/18 10:46 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 5,070
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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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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Retsacnal Offline

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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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Retsacnal Offline

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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 it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
P E R F O R M A N C E over p r o v e n a n c e

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 it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
P E R F O R M A N C E over p r o v e n a n c e

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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Hobart, Australia
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ando Offline
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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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Goshen, Indiana
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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



"If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742544
06/06/18 01:26 PM
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
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
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


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
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pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2742600
06/06/18 04:30 PM
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.


Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

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