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Steinway Letter to Dealers

  • 1.  Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 13 days ago
    A piano dealer informed me that Steinway has threatened legal action against rebuilders and dealers selling reconditioned Steinway pianos that do not contain 100& Steinway parts. Anyone heard of this?

    ------------------------------
    Philip Jamison
    Philip Jamison Pianos
    WEST CHESTER PA
    610-696-8449
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago
    Hi Philip:
    Yes it's true, this is not new news. And if you want to purchase parts from them, they'll cost a LOT more than before.
    Paul McCloud
    San Diego


    Philip Jamison
    A piano dealer informed me that Steinway has threatened legal action against rebuilders and dealers selling reconditioned Steinway pianos that do not contain 100& Steinway parts. Anyone heard of this?

    ------------------------------
    Philip Jamison
    Philip Jamison Pianos
    WEST CHESTER PA
    610-696-8449





  • 3.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 13 days ago
    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.

    Source: https://www.steinwaycontent.com/images/decals-unlimited-letter.pdf

    ------------------------------
    Roshan Kakiya
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago
    Roshan,
    Thank you for clearing up the Steinway position. Can you cite any particular law or legal precedent where technicians using non- Steinway parts on a genuine Steinway piano would be legally liable in violating Steinway copyrights? It would be helpful to understand my legal standing when I replace a string or keytop or punching on my customers Steinway piano. Am I in legal jeopardy if I use non-Steinway parts on my own Steinway piano?
    Roger Gable

    ------------------------------
    Roger Gable
    Gable Piano
    Everett WA
    425-252-5000
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 12 days ago
    In fairness to Steinway, I can see both sides of the coin.

    In France I came across a Steinway to which non-Steinway hammers had been fitted, and fitted horribly. The resulting piano wasn't one which would give Steinway credit.

    Among people doing works on pianos there are the outstanding, the mediocre and those who don't even know how bad they are. Sadly the latter are most unlikely to be readers of the PTG discussions.

    Best wishes

    David P

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    David Pinnegar, B.Sc., A.R.C.S.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    +44 1342 850594





  • 6.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago
    As this has been hashed over many times since this letter was originally sent out I will not get into asny specifics about what is legal or not. The important thing to remember is that it is nothing more than a LETTER. A letter does nothing legally. One can say anything they want in a letter (except threaten bodily harm or worse) without any legal repercussions or commitments. Lawyers send out threatening letters all the time. Why? Usually to scare or intimidate the adversary into taking the desired action WITHOUT actually taking the (expensive) legal action to force the issue.

    I addition, lawyers know when it's better to NOT go to court since your case may not be as strong as you like, but they do KNOW the power of a nasty threatening letter that says: "we will take you to court if..."  It's the one of the oldest attorney tricks in the book. It often works.

    To date I know of no legal action taken against anyone by SS, and the rebuilding business continues unabated. Their case is easily defeatable by established case law (and they know it), they have not complied fully with legal requirements to truly protect their trademarks over the decades (and they know it). It would be expensive and time consuming with little to no economic benefit on either side. Thus, the blow-hard, chest-beating letter designed to scare the little pianotech peons into submission.

    If/when they ACTUALLY follow through with something big, THEN we can all start shaking in our boots (But even then it would take years to resolve in the courts). Till then, its business as usual.

    On a side note they've probably done more now to encourage people to take their parts orders someplace else by doubling or tripling their prices virtually overnight.  Kind of a dumb move.

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Member
    Posted 12 days ago
    Not to mention that by sheer serendipity, while out walking in the woods...the woods of all places...I happened to look under a rock, and behold, there was a legal Steinway decal. Of all places, under a rock. Of course, I immediately grabbed it, ran back to my shop, to find an illicit Steinway piano that wanted its poor little old name back.  Can you believe my luck?  Now, did I put this serendipitous decal on some poor illicit Steinway piano?...well now, I just can't seem to remember...imagine that...



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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago
    David,
    Was the horrible fitting due to the fact that non-S&S hammers were used or due to poor craftsmanship?

    Bob Anderson, RPT
    Tucson, AZ




  • 9.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago
    Now I will really enjoy doing the action rebuild I have in my shop,  as my client DOES NOT want Steinway parts!  And I certainly want to make my client happy. 





  • 10.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 12 days ago
    I'm with you Douglas, as I always look to improve the pianos I work on or rebuild  ��

    Joël Weber





  • 11.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago
    To those interested, here is the same legal threat from another famous company. Any resemblance to such named company is only incidental.


    To whom it may concern,

    As you may have heard, Ford Motor Company no longer licenses the use of its trademarks or logos (either past or present iterations thereof) to any aftermarket company offering a Ford emblem or sticker. There were many reasons for this decision, most notably the fact that these Ford emblems were being used on restored/rebuilt Ford cars that were being rebuilt without genuine Ford engines or transmissions, and sometimes without a single genuine Ford replacement part.
    We have found that there is an enormous amount of misinformation on the differences between a genuine Ford automobile and an old Ford rebuilt with non-Ford parts on the web, in auto forums, and other places. This misinformation is often propagated by the very same rebuilders that are marketing and selling off the good name that Ford has established for quality over the course of 120 years of building Ford cars. We cannot allow our company name (and reputation) to exist on a Ford that looks brand new, but in many cases sounds nothing like a Ford.

    Effective immediately, it is no longer legally permissible to purchase Ford decals for application on a Ford car through Decals Unlimited. In addition, Ford has not authorized any other party to sell Ford decals, and any such decals are considered counterfeit. Ford will not be selling decals through our Parts Department or any other Ford channel.

    Furthermore, it is a violation of our trademark rights for someone to market or sell a restored/rebuilt vehicle as a "Ford” automobile unless: (A) the vehicle uses ONLY genuine Ford replacement parts or (B) the non-Ford replacement parts used are incidental to the function of the vehicle and any such non-Ford 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. Ford Motor company 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 an automobile that they feel may be using counterfeit Ford decals, or which is being marketed and sold as a "Ford" piano in violation of our trademark rights to report the violation, including the vehicle and its location, by sending a message to violations@ford.com. We have come across far too many purchasers of rebuilt Fords that do not realize that the key components of that vehicle were not manufactured by Ford, so we are taking these steps to better inform and protect the consumer.

    Furthermore, any racing team that uses a likeness of a Ford automobile in any form, shall be subject to fines and legal prosecution. We cannot stand by and let some yahoo race team ruin our reputation by producing a car that runs better and faster than the ones we crank out on the assembly line.

    Thank you for your attention in this matter of great importance to our company.

    Sincerely,
    Todd A. Butcher
    Acting General Counsel (Member AFTRA)
    Ford Motor Company and Divisions, Inc.




  • 12.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago
    Ah Paul,
    Such lovely satire. Put a big smile on my face. Thank you!

    David Pinnegar. Have you ever come across a horrible factory original Steinway? I have. In the past I made quite a bit of money working for Steinway dealer fixing these "original" specification pianos. I was correcting improperly shaped V-bars, too heavy hammers, too heavy touch and other problems. I couldn't fix them all so you may sometimes get an opportunity to experience this reality. Surely a Steinway dealer selling a defective new Steinway does more to damage their "brand value" than an un-expertly rebuilt used one ever does.

    ------------------------------
    Edward McMorrow
    Edmonds WA
    425-299-3431
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  • 13.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago
    I'm curious, what is the status of that?  There are an awful lot of folks out there putting in Bolduc panels and pinblocks or making their own panels out of sitka, Abel markets their parts with no disclaimer about where they can be used, Renner parts as are sold by Renner USA are not available through Steinway, etc., etc.,  I'd be curious what the parts dealers say about that and if there are any developments in this arena.

    ------------------------------
    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 12 days ago
    Edward - thanks so much for that thought. It's really why one can walk into a showroom and think to oneself "I'd like that one" and care not for another.

    I'm in the fortunate position of doing things only for people who know what I do and want me to do it rather than me wanting any work around. The result it that it tends to be musical connoisseurs for whom I do things who have chosen the best of the best already and why therefore I have a skewed vision tending only to see the best.

    Of the Steinways I've experienced, within a range of variability of course, I know what I'm going to get when I meet one. The quality control of those that I've met has been very good and not the least because those who have worked on them in their history have been of the best of skill and understanding.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dCQyD57e9M is one of my fans and he's been telling his friends how I've transformed his instrument. But it's the piano fundamentally that's good.

    Best wishes

    David P

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    David Pinnegar, B.Sc., A.R.C.S.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    +44 1342 850594





  • 15.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    I wonder if Steinway ever went after Hanna-Barbara for their "Stoneway" piano name used in The Flintstones cartoon series??? It was an obvious "rip-off" of their name! And I have run across a "bad" Steinway-tuned like a cheap Chinese piano; over-tight pins that jumped every time you moved them. AAAUGH-actually went on my "do not return" list, which is a VERY short list!





  • 16.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 12 days ago
    From the President of PTG
    To the membership
    February 2019

    The PTG Board of Directors received the following letter from Steinway & Sons on December 10 regarding the use of their decals https://www.steinwaycontent.com/images/decals-unlimited-letter.pdf. The letter was discussed during a PTG Board of Directors conference call that evening. Several questions came up during the conference call, and those questions were forwarded to the PTG attorney before the Mid-Year Board Meeting.

    Additionally, two PT Journal articles dealing with trademarks and rebuilder's rights that were published in June of 1997 (pages 33-35, authored by Charles E. Miller, JD), and January of 1999 (pages 20-21, authored by Morgan Malino, JD).

    Source: https://my.ptg.org/executiveoutlook/letter

    ------------------------------
    Roshan Kakiya
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Member
    Posted 12 days ago
    Thank you for this Roshan.

    Trademark law's purpose is to protect consumers. It is not a protection for manufacturers, and certainly is not a substitute for patent rights law.  Its about the consumer, and not the manufacturer. This point, has been carefully obfuscated by Steinway in this case.  They are obfuscating. Obfuscating, because that is the only lever the  their misguided corporate heads have to prosecute. This means, threats will be more effective than litigation. Steinway's all-knowing corporate team would be fools to attempt to litigate this claim. The reason being, that there is high probability litigation would be end up being a lose-lose situation for them. Not only is their claim not supported by trademark law, and past decisions, but litigation would most likely open Steinway or (insert name of corporate bully here), to a public dismissal of their claim, and counter suit.

    Threats towards small fry's are much more effective than litigation. This means, the likelihood of litigation is pretty damn small, and, if attempted, might well represent a small fry's chance at a very well financed retirement, in counter suit.

    The best response here, is the effective response used against other bullies. Derision is the proper response, and I suggest we make abundant  use of it.

    Discussing the supposed "merits" of their false claims, actively advances the propaganda they are trying to sully the discussion with. In my view it should not even be discussed ad nauseum as we usually do on the list. Reason being, as we have seen in the proliferation of outright lies in the current political scene, as per Bannon's exact quote..."fill the space with sh_t". Discussing their obfuscated claim, as if it were fact, by shear repetition, imparts an air of "fact" on their obfuscated claims. Thus, the discussion becomes so hard to parse, fact from fiction becomes unknowable, they can say anything, and have it accepted as fact.

    ------------------------------
    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    I had a conversation today with the local Steinway dealer and he commented that now that S&S owns Renner, more Renner parts are showing up in the New York instruments. Don't know which parts. As per Mr. McMorrow's comments, this might be for the best.
    Maybe they'll have to sue themselves at some point.

    Like many things in this cut, paste, and clone century, it's getting confusing.

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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    This harks back to the days when the NY parts were so bad that S&S was using Renner action parts in the B an D.

    Bob Anderson, RPT
    Tucson, AZ




  • 20.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 11 days ago
    Robert A. wrote: "This harks back to the days when the NY parts were so bad that S&S was using Renner action parts in the B an D."

    Not to mention Kluge (sp?) keys, Mapes strings and Kelly plates......  but we won't mention those......


    ------------------------------
    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    Kluge, Kelly Plate, Renner. All wholly owned subsidiaries of Steinway and Sons. In 1991 when I suggested the company follow this path of vertical integration I was laughed out of the conference room.

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    Karl Roeder
    Pompano Beach FL
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  • 22.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Member
    Posted 11 days ago
    I feel that there should be full disclosure where all the parts used come from because they (S&S) certainly do not make every item that goes into their pianos. Of course the exact source may be a trade secret but consumers should know that the piano is made in the USA with domestic and foreign parts built to their specification. In todays global economy there are very few products made totally with US parts. Craftsmen is slapping a made in the USA flag decal on many of their tool cabinets but the catch is the product is made in the US assembled with US and foreign made parts.

     Back in the day some piano manufactories had their own foundries to cast plates but eventually it came down to just a few companies. Take the bottom board off nearly  every brand of piano and you are likely to see names like Badger, Wickham, Kelly. Take the action out of many of the great grands from the Golden Era and you are apt to see many Wessell, Nickel and Gross actions.  Many pianos state they have Roslau strings- a sign of quality

    I am not a lawyer but it seems common sense that even Steinway & Sons can not claim that its only a Steinway if it has 100 % Steinway Genuine Parts. Do they define what Genuine parts are ?

    The world has too many MBA's running around convinced its their way or no way.  Is the next step going to be you can not use a non-Steinway trained tech to service your S &S or your warranty will be void ?  If in the course of our work we discover non S&S parts in an S &S do we have to tell the owner their piano is not "genuine" ?

    ------------------------------
    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    843-325-4357
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 11 days ago
    James K wrote: "If in the course of our work we discover non S&S parts in an S &S do we have to tell the owner their piano is not "genuine"?"

    O.M.G. Wouldn't that be funny as all heck to tell S&S owners: golly gee, Mrs. S&S owner, someone put a Kelly plate in your S&S - it's not 100% S&S - it's a fake!!!

    Actually, I don't think I'd do it, but its kinda-sorta funny to think of it!


    ------------------------------
    Terry Farrell
    Farrell Piano Service, Inc.
    Brandon, Florida
    terry@farrellpiano.com
    813-684-3505
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago


    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    Hi all,

    Just a friendly reminder that this issue was discussed, extensively, back in 2018. It was ultimately removed because the discussion violated PTG's anti-trust policies. Please be careful about what you post on the issue. Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    Benjamin,

    You are correct, and furthermore due to the fact that it really is a NON-ISSUE, there is little sense in discussing it further.

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Member
    Posted 11 days ago
    please specify

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Steinway Letter to Dealers

    Posted 11 days ago
    Now that's a funny logo ��