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How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners #2810036
02/02/19 10:03 PM
02/02/19 10:03 PM
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GC13 Offline OP
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How does the new policy affect a private individual who already owns a Steinway and chooses to have rebuilding work done privately if they choose (or have already chosen) non-Steinway parts? Do I have to scrape the name Steinway off of my fallboard and the right side? Do I have to grind it off of the plate? Will they come and put my technician in prison for using non-Steinway parts? Will they try to sue me if I resell my piano if it has any non-Steinway parts in it? Will WNG, Tokiwa, Abel, Ronsen, and the rest have to stop selling parts that fit Steinway pianos?

I am tempted to ask if anyone here has had discussions with legal representatives or Steinway representatives on the issue, but I assume it's best right now to keep any of those communications private to protect all parties involved at this point. I've also noticed most of the major Steinway rebuilders are still advertising their Steinway rebuilt pianos on their websites.

I am the proud owner of a Steinway Model B, but I could have never bought one new from the factory, not even a model S. The sad thing is, that I don't think this will result in Steinway selling more new pianos or that they will have an upswing in rebuilds. I know they think they are protecting their name and reputation, but in the end, I think they will end up doing nothing more than creating ill will in the piano-buying public. The strong 2nd-hand Steinway market demonstrates the durability and quality of their pianos, and the fact that Steinway's have a strong resale value compared to most brands.

It seems to me that those who cannot afford the almost 6-figure price tag for a new Steinway or Steinway rebuild will lean toward the competition -- going for Mason & Hamlin and Baldwin rebuilds or the used Yamaha and Kawai market.

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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810241
02/03/19 02:45 PM
02/03/19 02:45 PM
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What new policy. A link to a Steinway site with the policy would be appropriate.


Jeff Deutschle
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810250
02/03/19 03:13 PM
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I don’t know about any new legal policy, but what it sounds like GC13 is describing I think is at least partially reasonable on Steinway’s part.

It’s convenient for rebuilders to use the Steinway name to make a sale, but if they’ve replaced parts not like Steinway does or uses different parts then it is misrepresenting Steinway’s pianos (even if the rebuilder thinks it is better than how Steinway does it). But on the other hand, Steinway does abuse their status so maybe they need to have some leniency for others who need to use their reputation to sell a piano.

I put GC Piano bass strings on my former model L because I think they’re better than Steinway’s for that size piano. But it doesn’t sound like Steinway’s version of the bass and, for better or worse, I think Steinway is entitled to want their designs attached to their name.

Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810251
02/03/19 03:18 PM
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At present Steinway has kept officially silent on the details. I have been ignored "officially" in my email requests for details, though I did get a generalized response from Kent Webb, however promising more details after the first of the year. Been over a month now and no response.

I know another tech who had a face-to-face with one Steinway VP and received nothing but a smirked stare in response. This all confirms my suspicion that they are going to do nothing at all...it is simply a legal move in preparation for a sale of the company.

Do as you please...the likelihood of legal action is about 1/2 of 1%.

Remember that trademark enforcement is something that must be done consistently and aggressively FROM DAY ONE. If any lapse exists they have no standing in court. Yes they can send threatening letters, etc., but in court is where the rubber meets the road and without a "disney"like record...

IMO

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 02/03/19 03:25 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: P W Grey] #2810275
02/03/19 04:59 PM
02/03/19 04:59 PM
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If links to press releases or news articles aren't available could somebody explain what the new policy is and how it differs from the old policy?

EDIT: Nevermind, I think I found the context here in in this thread on the general piano forum

Last edited by AWilley; 02/03/19 05:04 PM.

Anthony Willey, RPT
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: P W Grey] #2810311
02/03/19 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
This all confirms my suspicion that they are going to do nothing at all...it is simply a legal move in preparation for a sale of the company.


That’s interesting. What makes you think they want to sell? That could potentially be a big impact on the industry.

Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: jsilva] #2810326
02/03/19 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by jsilva
Originally Posted by P W Grey
This all confirms my suspicion that they are going to do nothing at all...it is simply a legal move in preparation for a sale of the company.


That’s interesting. What makes you think they want to sell? That could potentially be a big impact on the industry.


Really? It didn't the last few times.

Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810334
02/03/19 08:06 PM
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Did you call Steinway and ask? What did they say?


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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810338
02/03/19 08:23 PM
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Kind of makes sense when you read their policy

https://www.steinway.com/restoration


piano tuner/technician
Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810360
02/03/19 09:56 PM
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Makes sense if they have a long history of aggressively eliminating trademark violators. If hit or miss, it does not make sense (legally) except as a scare tactic. It also would make sense if all Steinways (especially pre-diapgragmatic days) had diaphragmatic soundboards (but amazingly they didn't, and many of the best examples of piano making never heard of such a thing). It would also make sense if Steinway made other historically accurate parts for various production periods, but they don't, and they won't under any circumstances. So, their claim to "restoration" is a false claim (legally) when in fact what they really do is REMANUFACTURE them to current specs.

But it also makes sense if what you're trying to do is tidy up loose ends and open agreements so as to present a nice compact picture to a prospective buyer. Notice too that they are homogenizing their casework and other design features with the Hamburg plant. There's a reason behind that.

Remember, they're not going to broadcast their intentions. They keep their mouth shut and make things look as good as possible. From that standpoint their current "position" makes perfect sense...IMO.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: Steven Bolstridge] #2810367
02/03/19 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Steven Bolstridge
Kind of makes sense when you read their policy

https://www.steinway.com/restoration

“If it doesn’t have 12,116 genuine STEINWAY parts, it isn’t a STEINWAY.” That strikes me as a bit pretentious.


Anthony Willey, RPT
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810386
02/04/19 12:22 AM
02/04/19 12:22 AM
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If one knows the company history regarding design elements and production procedures, it is quite easy to show that the current company management has less knowledge about Steinway specifications than some independent rebuilders. The whole premise that the Company only can decide whether an old Steinway is still a Steinway is unsupportable.

I have suggested to PTG that we sell duplicate decals for historical Steinways to PTG members only. PTG says it is defending used Steinway owners rights. That way Steinway has to sue all of us at the same time. PTG countersues for restraint of trade and calls out to the media to publicize our case. PTG could even crowd source fund raise for legal costs. When Steinway loses the case, PTG gets triple damages.

I think PTG is big enough to fight Steinway if we band together.

I have long thought PTG should make it a prime point to defend and represent piano owners interests. That is what professionals do!

Steinway piano owners have a right to restore their piano to original appearance. There is no fraud against Steinway in doing this.

The fake argument that just because some rebuilt Steinways are bad pianos, they should lose the logo rights falls apart when one knows that some new Steinways are "bad" pianos.


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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: AWilley] #2810505
02/04/19 11:15 AM
02/04/19 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by AWilley
Originally Posted by Steven Bolstridge
Kind of makes sense when you read their policy

https://www.steinway.com/restoration

“If it doesn’t have 12,116 genuine STEINWAY parts, it isn’t a STEINWAY.” That strikes me as a bit pretentious.



So, does a K have the same number of parts as a D? I don't think so.

Notice that this statement on the website is in QUOTES. Does anyone know the reason for that? That means that they are "simply" quoting what "somebody" said (as opposed to making a factual statement that could be challenged legally as being accurate, inaccurate, trademark infringement, patent violation, or what have you). In the advertising world, by putting it in QUOTES they can literally say ANYTHING THEY WANT and get away with it because they are simply "repeating" what someone said. That "someone" (in this case presumably Henry Steinway) could in fact be ANYONE, including the person who thought up the advertising expression. They do not have to prove it or back it up with any factual data whatsoever because it is "what someone said...you'll have to take it up with them". Doesn't matter if they are dead. They can get away with it.

Anyway, as the "story" goes, some kid asked Henry how many parts there are in a Steinway and he stopped and thought for a few seconds and (ostensibly as a result of his encyclopedic knowledge of the subject) said: "12,000" From then on that was the figure given for the answer to that question (when in fact it was a guess). It is common practice (when you want to give the impression of accuracy) to add a little here and there to make it APPEAR like you actually counted. 12,116 is that kind if number. Depending on the model it actually could be as little as "11,476 or as high as 23,779 if you add the Spirio unit". Then you have to ask: "with or without a bench, and if with, which bench"?

Steinway has decided to take some of their (admittedly clever) marketing devices and turn them into a legal position. They can scare the pants off some people, but it won't hold up in a court room. This is why you're not going to see any court cases here. It's FLUFF. The only case they have is where someone fraudulently tries to make another brand of piano appear to be a Steinway and sell it that way. That is fraud, and that is prosecutable and should be prosecuted. The only problem is that they never put any policy in place (ever) to trace this practice and prosecute. This is why their cry of trademark violation now does not pass muster (but is a clever scare tactic).

In the final analysis, if you want to sell your "Steinway" you just wrote on a piece of paper: "I don't know what parts were or were not purchased from Steinway". You need to check it yourself and decide. If you like it, buy it, if you don't, then don't buy it". You'll be covered, and the piano will sell on its own merits according to the market in your area.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: AWilley] #2810618
02/04/19 03:41 PM
02/04/19 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AWilley
Originally Posted by Steven Bolstridge
Kind of makes sense when you read their policy

https://www.steinway.com/restoration

“If it doesn’t have 12,116 genuine STEINWAY parts, it isn’t a STEINWAY.” That strikes me as a bit pretentious.


Actually, it's a bit more than pretentious...

1) It's completely inconsistent with any other parallel usage:
"If it's not all made by Antonio Stradivari it's not a Stradivarius"
"If it doesn't have a factory sourced tuning machine, it's not a Gibson guitar."
"If it doesn't have Gemeinhardt pads, it's no longer a Gemeinhardt flute."
"If it doesn't have a "Motorcraft" starter, it's no longer a Ford"

And, of course, I'm not aware of any other piano maker that takes a similar stance:
"If it has Abel hammers, it's no longer a Yamaha"

2) It's probably illegal (not offering legal advice, consult your own attorney).
In general, it smacks of restraint-of-trade ... and we in the PTG ought to know about that issue since we were sued by the federal gov't.
In my recollection auto manufacturers tried the "must use original factory parts" ploy and courts determined that that was illegal.
It "may" be possible to require that certain components meet certain specifications in order to be accepted for warranty or insurance purposes, but is anyone aware of any specification Steinway has published for, say, hammershanks for example? Nor for anything else, I would think.


(And, to expand on the illegal aspect, are we as technicians also guilty of restraint-of-trade if we cooperate with Steinway's attempt to limit competition?



Keith Akins, RPT
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810622
02/04/19 03:47 PM
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It is much ado about nothing.


Semipro Tech
Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: BDB] #2810624
02/04/19 03:53 PM
02/04/19 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
It is much ado about nothing.



Maybe not. It may be about Steinway negatively affecting the income of some of the finest rebuilding technicians and shops in the country and reducing the options of Steinway owners.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: kpembrook] #2810644
02/04/19 04:32 PM
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But that does not affect owners. So far, it seems not to have affected rebuilders even to the point of consulting a lawyer, let alone starting a lawsuit.


Semipro Tech
Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810646
02/04/19 04:36 PM
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BDB,

This is because Steinway would have to take the first step (which I do not believe they will do because they are not stupid...they may a bully, but they're not stupid) of hauling someone into court. The most they have done this far is to send out some letters and an occasional "cease and desist" letter.

So, in a very real sense it IS much ado about nothing, as you say.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 02/04/19 04:39 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: GC13] #2810652
02/04/19 04:49 PM
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This is an interesting thread.

I used to do consulting work for a furniture restoration company. If a piano was damaged in a fire, flood, etc. they would talk to me.

Many years ago, they called me in because a new Steinway grand was damaged during a move. The bass strings got wet during the move. The owner wanted genuine Steinway strings.

I contacted Steinway. I was told that it would be ok to just order them through Schaff. I explained that the owner wanted Steinway strings and purchased them through Steinway.

This was a long time ago. But, I was referred to a vendor other than Steinway by Steinway.

Also, what happens if a piano is repaired, not rebuilt, using a non-Steinway part? Does the decal need to be removed?

If a rebuilder rebuilds a piano without refinishing it, does the Steinway decal need to be removed?


Last edited by daniokeeper; 02/04/19 04:50 PM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Re: How does Steinway's new policy impact current owners [Re: daniokeeper] #2810681
02/04/19 05:35 PM
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This is from the Steinway parts list:

For all Steinway, Boston, and Essex bass string orders please contact Mapes Piano String Company. Mapes has been the supplier of Steinway bass strings for over 100 years and has extensive and detailed knowledge of current and historical bass string dimensions.


Semipro Tech
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