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Policy Letter from Steinway
#2790955 12/13/18 04:25 PM
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Here is the text of an email just received from Steinway about the decal/ rebuilding policy of Steinway Pianos.

December 11, 2018
To whom it may concern,
As you may have heard, Steinway & Sons no longer licenses the use of its trademarks or logos (either past or present iterations thereof) to Decals Unlimited for the creation of decals for use on the soundboards and fallboards of Steinway pianos. There were many reasons for this decision, most notably the fact that these decals were being used on restored/rebuilt Steinway pianos that were being rebuilt without genuine Steinway soundboards or wrestplanks/pinblocks, and sometimes without a single genuine Steinway replacement part.
We have found that there is an enormous amount of misinformation on the differences between a genuine Steinway piano and an old Steinway rebuilt with non-Steinway parts on the web, in piano forums, and other places. This misinformation is often propagated by the very same rebuilders that are marketing and selling off the good name that Steinway has established for quality over the course of 165 years of building pianos. We cannot allow our company name (and reputation) to exist on a piano that looks brand new, but in many cases sounds nothing like a Steinway.
Effective immediately, it is no longer legally permissible to purchase Steinway decals for application on a Steinway piano through Decals Unlimited. In addition, Steinway has not authorized any other party to sell Steinway decals, and any such decals are considered counterfeit. Steinway will not be selling decals through our Parts Department or any other Steinway channel.
Furthermore, it is a violation of our trademark rights for someone to market or sell a restored/rebuilt piano as a “Steinway” piano unless: (A) the piano uses ONLY genuine Steinway replacement parts or (B) the non-Steinway replacement parts used are incidental to the function of the piano and any such non-Steinway parts used are specifically disclosed to the consumer. In either case, it must also be specifically and fully disclosed to the consumer that the piano has been rebuilt and by whom. Steinway & Sons takes its reputation and this matter very seriously, and will enforce our rights with respect to any pianos marketed or sold in violation of the above to the fullest extent of the law.
We are asking anyone who comes across a piano that they feel may be using counterfeit Steinway & Sons decals, or which is being marketed and sold as a “Steinway” piano in violation of our trademark rights to report the violation, including the piano and its location, by sending a message to violations@steinway.com. We have come across far too many purchasers of rebuilt Steinways that do not realize that the key components of that piano were not manufactured by Steinway & Sons, so we are taking these steps to better inform and protect the consumer. Thank you for your attention in this matter of great importance to our company.
Sincerely,
Todd Brecher
Acting General Counsel
Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc.


Larry Hofer
Hofer Piano Works
Corona CA
Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2790963 12/13/18 04:47 PM
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This probably depends on where you live, but...

The fact that the logo represented by the decal is a Steinway trademark is irrelevant to the fact that the decal is not being sold as an original Steinway decal.



Last edited by johnstaf; 12/13/18 04:49 PM.
Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
johnstaf #2790969 12/13/18 05:08 PM
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Yes, I suspect that there are a number of holes in this, but I would not want to be a rebuilder paying an attorney to fight Steinway. They have much deeper pockets.



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Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2790997 12/13/18 06:53 PM
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Buyer beware. If someone slaps a Steinway decal on a revarnished '57 Chickering and sells it to an unsuspecting antique collector, then they bear some responsibility as well.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791004 12/13/18 07:12 PM
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The unscrupulous will always find a way. Decals are easily made. The honest rebuilders will be the ones who will be hurt the most. Interestingly, I recently played a Steinway that was rebuilt using Renner action parts and hammers and liked it better than most "real" Steinways I've tried.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791013 12/13/18 07:28 PM
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Does Steinway want to put other rebuilders out of business or is there an easy way for the rebuilders to get around this? There was an earlier thread about this a few months ago but I don't remember its conclusions.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791015 12/13/18 07:32 PM
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I would love to see those hologram stickers that say "Genuine Steinway" on them. (end sarcasm)

What I do like about the letter is the bit about disclosing rebuilders. There is an awful lot of badly rebuilt Steinways out there.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791040 12/13/18 08:35 PM
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I hope that some of our rebuilder colleagues will contribute to this thread. It worries me that a Steinway restored with non-Steinway parts cannot be sold as a "Steinway". To me this seems ridiculous, especially for historic instruments.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791041 12/13/18 08:38 PM
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Steinways control system out in full force again !

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
David-G #2791057 12/13/18 09:27 PM
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I think you've misinterpreted the situation.
Originally Posted by David-G
I hope that some of our rebuilder colleagues will contribute to this thread. It worries me that a Steinway restored with non-Steinway parts cannot be sold as a "Steinway". To me this seems ridiculous, especially for historic instruments.
It seems that the only things Steinway wants to control directly are the decals.

Anyone can do anything to a Steinway piano. And it's still a Steinway.

But you'll be hard-pressed to replace the decal. And if such replacement is necessary for a restoration ... you're out of luck.
That's the indirect sort of control that Steinway is exercising.

This part doesn't make sense:
Quote
The fact that the logo represented by the decal is a Steinway trademark is irrelevant to the fact that the decal is not being sold as an original Steinway decal.
A trademark owner OWNS the rights to the marks and logos. It doesn't matter whether the decals are not being sold as original. The mark is owned by Steinway and can only be used under license.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791066 12/13/18 09:47 PM
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The letter states that rebuilders must disclose non Steinway parts to the buyer. There are many things a rebuilder can do to a Steinway, and it's not a "Steinway" anymore. Perhaps 10% of the Steinway rebuilds I see are really well done, and some are awful. Steinway has realized this and it appears this is their solution. I wonder if the logo "rebuilt Steinway" on the fall board would fly???



Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791078 12/13/18 10:27 PM
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Anyone who owns a Steinway piano has the right to restore it to any appearance they want. And this includes making it look like it did when it was new. Steinway does not have to sell the decals if it doesn't want to. BUT, they can't stop people from putting duplicate decals on if they so choose.

What Steinway can control is misrepresentations.

It is very clear in this letter that Steinway wants to control the rebuilding of Steinway pianos. Thus they view rebuilders as direct competition. This is where restraint of trade issues start, and if Steinway loses a suit on those grounds, they pay triple damages.

We will see where this goes.


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Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791080 12/13/18 10:57 PM
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I'm with Ed on this one. Steinway sold the piano. It belongs to the owner. He purchased any so-called license when he bought the piano. A rebuilder is only doing what the owner wants. He can modify it any way he wants. No different than any souped up classic car out there.
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Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791082 12/13/18 10:59 PM
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Does anyone have a sense of how financially sound S&S NY is? S&S Hamburg supplies Asia, including China, so their business must be booming. I read some place that Astoria factory was not doing as well.

If this decal thing is so that Astoria factory can be kept open, I'm sympathetic.

On the other hand, if Steinways cannot be rebuilt, I'm sure other manufacturers are juumping for joy.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2791096 12/14/18 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Anyone who owns a Steinway piano has the right to restore it to any appearance they want. And this includes making it look like it did when it was new. Steinway does not have to sell the decals if it doesn't want to. BUT, they can't stop people from putting duplicate decals on if they so choose.

What Steinway can control is misrepresentations.

It is very clear in this letter that Steinway wants to control the rebuilding of Steinway pianos. Thus they view rebuilders as direct competition. This is where restraint of trade issues start, and if Steinway loses a suit on those grounds, they pay triple damages.

We will see where this goes.


Please report back when you have talked to a lawyer about your lawsuit.


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Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791185 12/14/18 08:19 AM
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It's all about control of market share. I don't think Steinway wants any rebuilt Steinways around, or only those rebuilt at their factory. The piano business in the USA is on shaky ground, and they probably see this as a way to keep what little of it there is left.

This is also probably why piano movers who work for Steinway routinely take good but used pianos that they are moving for the Steinway dealer to the dump. Can't have that excess stock of decent used pianos on the market to compete with their Steinways.... It's pretty sad.

Last edited by violarules; 12/14/18 08:19 AM.
Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791196 12/14/18 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Larry Hofer

Furthermore, it is a violation of our trademark rights for someone to market or sell a restored/rebuilt piano as a “Steinway” piano unless: (A) the piano uses ONLY genuine Steinway replacement parts or (B) the non-Steinway replacement parts used are incidental to the function of the piano and any such non-Steinway parts used are specifically disclosed to the consumer.


I think they have gone so far with that. If my granpa bought a steinway 60 years ago it still is a steinway no matter of its condition or the treatment it has received. I can even burn it and sell it as a steinway because that is my right as an owner. Unless steinway wants to redefine the definition of property rightsr under capitalism.

I guess rebuilders are taking a big portion of the business anf steinway wants to stop that. But their strategy is nonsense from a legal standpoint.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
MacMacMac #2791213 12/14/18 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac

This part doesn't make sense:
Quote
The fact that the logo represented by the decal is a Steinway trademark is irrelevant to the fact that the decal is not being sold as an original Steinway decal.
A trademark owner OWNS the rights to the marks and logos. It doesn't matter whether the decals are not being sold as original. The mark is owned by Steinway and can only be used under license.


Trademark violation is a civil matter. Counterfeiting is a criminal one.

Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
Larry Hofer #2791244 12/14/18 11:34 AM
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Bottom line, whether you're an owner or a rebuilder, just be very careful not to damage your original decals.

This is an issue for rebuilt pianos in the furniture market more than the musical market. Those who are buying for action and sound will soon learn to ignore the appearance of the decals.

Steinway may want to adopt the Panavision business model: Manufacture and rent, never sell. That way you can keep strict quality control on the units in the field.


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Re: Policy Letter from Steinway
BDB #2791256 12/14/18 12:32 PM
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BDB:
Don't you EVER tire of the CONSTANT gainsaying of EVERYTHING Ed says ?
Do you imagine that the forum actually enjoys or appreciates your miserable and invariably negative remarks ?
Would you consider giving it a rest, just for Christmas ?
Is it totally beyond your capacity to be nice, to be considerate, to actually LEARN something from Ed ?
Karl Watson
Staten Island, NY

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