Piano Brands and Trade Marks – What’s in a Name?


Newly formed company “UK Broadwood Group Co., Ltd” has applied for the trade mark “Johannes Broadwood Cum Filiis” (trade mark no. UK00003225055). The application is in Class 15 and covers “pianos; musical instruments; guitars; violas; violins; keyboards for musical instruments; strings for musical instruments; piano keyboards; piano strings; piano keys”.

A Broadwood square piano made in 1795

Those who suffered Latin classes at school might know that the mark translates to “John Broadwood and Sons”.

John Broadwood & Sons (founded in 1728) is the oldest and one of the most prestigious piano companies in the world, and has been granted a Royal Warrant by virtually every British monarch since George II (1727-1760), excluding Edward VIII who abdicated after 326 days.

But enough of the history lesson. UK Broadwood Group Co., Ltd (UKBGC) was incorporated in September 2014 with three Chinese shareholders, two of whom are directors. As of September 2016 the company hadn’t traded.


Imports

Why are UKBGC applying for this mark? One reason is that they may be intending to import Chinese pianos bearing the Broadwood name.

So is this ethical? Dr. Alastair Laurence, director of John Broadwood and Sons Ltd. (who own the trademark of their name) obviously doesn’t think so.

He comments, “The arrival in the UK of new Chinese pianos bearing our ‘Broadwood’ name would severely damage our company’s goodwill, standing and reputation, particularly as the Chinese instruments are likely to sell for less than half the price of an equivalent Broadwood manufactured in the UK, and, in all likelihood, would probably be of a lower quality.”

“If any of these Chinese-made Broadwood pianos end up in UK piano or music shops, or available for purchase on-line, then they would be available for sale in direct competition with our own instruments made here by our own company in the UK. The general public would then be misled and confused as to which is a genuine Broadwood product, and which is not.”

In 1794 Broadwood changed from using the Latin “Johannes Broadwood” to the English form

What Do You Think?

Do you agree with him? Should the UK Broadwood Group Co., Ltd application for the latinised trade mark be contested? If so, contact Dr Laurence who can use your comments as part of his formal objection to the trademark application. You can also express your feelings in the comments section at the end of this piece.

Of course many famous ‘traditional’ piano brands are manufactured in the Far East, usually to keep costs down, but always to the brand owners exacting specification.

Sometimes a manufacturer will legitimately acquire a known piano name (often a “dead brand”) for their own line of instruments.

In the case in question, there is an obvious conflict. Will the trade mark registry approve UKBGC’s application? All objections, and supporting material, needs to be with the UK Intellectual Property Office by 6th September, 2017. This application can only be opposed under “relative grounds” so if you wish to support John Broadwood and Sons Ltd, write to…

Dr Alastair Laurence
John Broadwood and Sons Ltd,
Lythe, Whitby,
YO21 3RT, 
UK

Website: John Broadwood & Sons Ltd.


3 thoughts on “Piano Brands and Trade Marks – What’s in a Name?

  1. Per A.Løhne

    I totally agree with Dr. Alastair Laurence in this matter. This is steeling of an respectively well renowned make.

    Reply
  2. Ric Overton

    This is the same techniques that are used in the U.S. from time to time. It is a disgusting practice. Whats to stop someone from licensing the name Steinway and Company or Steinway and Daughters? Generally, you can find people like this “lurking” with pen and paper trying to decipher the best and easiest way to defraud others.

    To take a name that is one of the oldest and well respected in the world and bastardize it like this is absolutely despicable. I sincerely hope that the courts will NOT allow this to happen.

    Reply

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