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#631966 - 01/19/09 04:42 PM Stanwood process - patented?
James Senior Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/08
Posts: 342
Loc: England
Hi everyone,

I have a question, probably arising from the fact that patent law is very different in the UK than in America.

I've just read "the new touchweight metrology" by D. Stanwood, and with great interest I may add.
To be honest, as an Engineer, it all makes perfect sense.

I notice that it's patented, and what's more there are 'licensed installers'. This all seems quite peculiar to me as it is a process, not a physical tool or something tangible.

What does it acually mean? If a technician is caught using this process to fine tune an action, is he in trouble? Or does it only apply if he or she uses the name Stanwood in their marketing?

James

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#631967 - 01/19/09 10:39 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21396
Loc: Oakland
You can patent a lot of things. Whether it will stand up in court or not is another matter.

The patent gives the patent owner the right to sue for infringement. However, patents are granted pretty much on the say-so of the inventor. In this case, the patent is probably pretty shaky, as classical mechanics have been around since, well, classical times.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#631968 - 01/19/09 10:57 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Yes, but look how long mice have been around, and as I understand, Harvard has patented a mouse (yes, the furry variety).

Go figure...

More to the point though - I hope the Stanwood installers on the list will chime in. As I understand it, you need to be a certified and licensed Stanwood installer to do the whole she-bang. However, Stanwood has a lot of good, useful and free information on his site that apparently anyone can use.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#631969 - 01/19/09 11:11 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
RoyP Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 786
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio
I look at this as being similar to whether or not you hire an RPT to service your piano. Do you want to hire someone who is credentialed, and who you know has gone through the training? Or do you want to hire someone who isn't, and who thinks they do something similar? That individual may or may not know the difference.

As far as the legal stuff goes, I'm not a lawyer. I know that I signed an license agreement. More than that, I think that Stanwood deserves his due, and that the ethical thing is to not try to cheat even if you can.
_________________________
Roy Peters, RPT
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.cincypiano.com

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#631970 - 01/20/09 12:18 AM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21396
Loc: Oakland
One of the kids I grew up with has grown up to make a good living developing varieties of mice for lab use. They are undoubtedly patented.

Whether or not the patents are valid, Stanwood's training may be worth the expense. He would probably be better off copyrighting that. The piano that has gone through it that I have tried before and after was not worth it to me, but different people have different ideas.

If someone came up with a similar system independently, and Stanwood sued over it, he would probably lose. Then again, it may not matter, as the marketing is more valuable than the ideas.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#631971 - 01/20/09 06:48 AM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
James Senior Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/08
Posts: 342
Loc: England
Thanks for the answers guys.

Whilst I'm sure a lot us us were aware of the problems and relationships mentioned in the paper, it is obviously a significant contribution of Mr Standwood to compile the data into a useful form and thus make a convincing argument, and also to propose a methodology.

I guess I viewed the paper from an academic perspective - sharing findings with the world - and was then surprised to see the patent thing.

Does he only make money from the training courses, or do the licensed technicians have to pay a small amount each time they use it?

Either way, I intent to apply what I've learnt on my own piano, although I may use a slightly different method.

I hope Mr Stanwood won't mind! Credit to him for his valuable research \:\)
If someone asks me what I did because they like the result, I will tell them to consult a Stanwood licensed technician, if there are any in the UK of course...

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#631972 - 01/20/09 12:04 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
“The author of original work is entitled to compensation.” This is how the law reads here in Canada.

Now that is a pretty broad interpretation of the law, as it would apply to not only words, but music and video too.

You can patent a process too, as well as copyrighting it, but the problem with any of this is you have to police it yourself. In these days of the internet, ask any musician the difficulty with this, once you have uploaded a version of some of your materials.

The trouble with any of this is someone can have a very similar process and change one little instruction or requirement and this escapes the infringement penalties.

Maybe my patented mouse is left-handed instead of right- handed……like that.

www.silverwoodpianos.com
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#631973 - 01/20/09 12:57 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1708
Loc: Massachusetts
In the US, you can't copyright a process. See this site . Stanwood's patent is pretty marginal as others on this thread have stated--his patent does not even explain the importance of strike weight, as he calls it. Everything else is basic mechanics, and obvious to anyone schooled in the art. As BDB said, the marketing is worth more than the patent. I think Stanwood's real contribution is compiling all the action data and making it public.

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#631974 - 01/20/09 01:14 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4914
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Roy:

Are you confusing copyrights with patents?
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#631975 - 01/20/09 03:55 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1708
Loc: Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by UnrightTooner:
Roy:

Are you confusing copyrights with patents? [/b]
No, I'm not. Patents are for techniques, inventions, methods, processes, and the like, and copyrights are for what could be classified as works of art--books, music, etc.. An enormous difference between patents and copyrights is that patents expire, and copyrights do not.

The purpose of a patent is to protect an inventor who spends time and money to develop something, so he is allowed the opportunity to sell it for a time without someone stealing his idea. There is a quid pro quo for patent protection--in order to gain patent protection, one has to reveal the details of one's invention to the world. In many cases, inventors prefer to keep the workings of their inventions secret and forgo patent protection.

Another big difference between patents and copyrights is that patents are expensive to get and maintain, and copyrights are not.

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#631976 - 01/20/09 04:51 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
portmanteau Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/08
Posts: 76
If you are really concerned you might want to speak to an attorney/solicitor about the status of
US patents in the UK. In the US knowingly violating a patent can result in triple damages, and
patent litigation is expensive.

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#631977 - 01/20/09 05:35 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
James Senior Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/08
Posts: 342
Loc: England
Oh it was only a query. Whilst the data curves are clearly of help, I just felt that to patent the rest was a bit strange. I wouldn't patent how to change a spark plug... \:\)

I doubt Mr Stanwood would mind if I use his strike weight curves whilst working on my own piano. (?)

Overall, I doubt the patent is something he'd enforce. It just ensures that his name gets recorded in piano history, and people that want to say they 'stanwoodise' get training from him.

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#631978 - 01/21/09 07:48 AM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1708
Loc: Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by devnull:
If you are really concerned you might want to speak to an attorney/solicitor about the status of
US patents in the UK. In the US knowingly violating a patent can result in triple damages, and
patent litigation is expensive. [/b]
You can use a patented method without infringement if you do it for yourself, and not for reimbursement. For example, you could use Stanwood's method on your own piano, but if you used it on someone else's piano and charged for the work, then technically, you could be sued.

On the other hand, the idea that you can patent the use of a basic physics principal that's been known for millennia to adjust the action ratio on a piano, which people have been doing for well over 100 years, is pretty silly. Stanwood has everything to lose by testing his patent in court. He would likely lose most of his claims, and thereby lose his cachet, and no doubt, reduce his income.

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#631979 - 01/21/09 08:00 AM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
James Senior Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/08
Posts: 342
Loc: England
Thanks Roy,

I'd just like to make it clear to anyone reading this thread that to my knowledge, at no point has Mr Stanwood tried to enforce this Patent - so all scenarios discussed have been purely hypothetical.

Whilst a patent has been issued, Mr Standwood has very kindly uploaded his findings to the internet for public viewing.

Many thanks to him for doing so

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#631980 - 01/21/09 08:19 AM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4914
Loc: Bradford County, PA
If I opened a garage that advertised a special way to change spark plugs, I may patent it so that some one else does not. This would prevent them from taking me to court for infringement.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#631981 - 01/21/09 09:07 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
WillisWill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 125
Loc: Charlottesville, VA
I hope the techs won't get too mad if a non-tech, but patent professional, chimes in.

Stanwood has patented methods of doing something with an action, specifically:

1. A method for balancing key assemblies of a stringed keyboard instrument, each key assembly having a keystick, comprising the steps of:

determining a hypothetical smoothed top action balance weight for the key assemblies;

determining a smoothed front weight for the key assemblies based on the smoothed top action balance weight; and,

balancing the keystick to the smoothed front weight.
-------------------------

I'll let those skilled in art (piano tech) decide what his method covers.

1) you can patent processes, contrary to some statements above

2) slight, insubstantial variations to process above can still consitute infringement, under the so-called doctrine of equivalent.

3) practicing a patented process, even if not for monetary gain, is still infringement. of course, if the piano never leaves the infringer's living room, it would be pretty difficult to prove infringement. even if infringement was proved, the damages (lost profits to stanwood, even triple damages for willfull infringment) would be far exceeded by the cost of litigation.

4) i agree that with enough money and determination, you can probably get a patent to anything (a few years ago a patent for a method of swinging from a tree limb made news). Once you get to court, it's often a crapshoot - some districts are notoriously patent-friendly, others not so much

i agree that patents are a crude sword for protecting this type of technology, and as mentioned above owning a patent provides marketing buzz. (think all those herbal supplements with patented formulae)
_________________________
The posts are coming from inside the house! Repeat, the posts are coming from inside the house!

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#631982 - 01/22/09 08:05 PM Re: Stanwood process - patented?
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
iamWill is correct, in Canada it is called a process patent and in the USA it is called a utility patent. The reasons for getting a process patent instead of a normal one is two fold. First, it is extremely expensive to file, hold and maintain a normal patent as compared to a process/utility patent.
Secondly, if an item can easily be duplicated or replicated from an existing item it becomes difficult to define it properly to protect yourself. Its easier to define all the cheap/specific ways to make it and leave your competitors in the position that they are allowed copy your item, but not using a process thats cheap enough to put it on the market and compete against you.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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