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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743060
06/08/18 03:15 PM
06/08/18 03:15 PM
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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.

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Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743067
06/08/18 03:30 PM
06/08/18 03:30 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,316
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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New Hampshire
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
(Best way to contact me privately)
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2743069
06/08/18 03:35 PM
06/08/18 03:35 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 69
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spk Offline
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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
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,668
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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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
06/09/18 06:18 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,782
London
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David-G Offline
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London
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
06/09/18 07:19 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 544
Wisconsin, USA
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Lakeviewsteve Offline
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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


Bösendorfer 170
Re: Problem getting Steinway fallboard and soundboard decals? [Re: pianoloverus] #2744286
06/14/18 12:38 AM
06/14/18 12:38 AM
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 3,496
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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
06/14/18 09:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 16
New City, NY
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NYSteve Online content
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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
06/15/18 03:45 PM
06/15/18 03:45 PM
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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
06/15/18 05:33 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,316
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P W Grey Offline
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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
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
(Best way to contact me privately)
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