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does anyone have this new prototype?


Sue2
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I reckon these might be prototypes of Wim Wakker's Clover concertina - maybe discards from a trial run.

No, like I've said, I actually know the guy in Ireland who supplied the Chinese with an A.C.Norman to copy - he's the one who initiated this, and now the Chinese are ripping off his rip-off, before it's even in production... :rolleyes: (When he showed me his samples in Miltown Malbay, I warned him they would - it's one major reason why I wouldn't go there to get anything made!)

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I know there are those whose financial situation requires the purchase of a "knock-off," but it is not in the interest of the concertina community to reward these thieves of intellectual property by purchasing these instruments, if they are indeed the product of a stolen design. Besides the moral issue, if Chinese knock-offs gain the dominence of the market, as they have in other manufactured goods (often by similar tactics), there will be no "western" makers --- in this price range, at least. Competition is only valid if there is a level playing field in terms of wages, design security, etc. Let them come up with their own designs, and pay a comparable wage, and then we'll see fair competition.

 

You're right of course but this bring an interesting philosophical (or ideological?) debate because you could apply this to all the goods you own that are made in China, like shoes for example. These low chinese wages are what allows westerners to own so much stuff and afford such a high living standard. Just food for thought!

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I can understand Andrew being more than a little peeved if they've ripped off his internal designs. I imagine he took years to work them out. Unfortunately that's the way a lot of companies (not only Chinese) work nowadays. We've encountered some horrendous examples of plagiarism in the greetings cards world involving UK household names companies. Occasionally the story has a happy ending, as when Mackie took the German company Behringer to court for copying the design of one of their audio interfaces. Mackie were able to show that Behringer had copied everything including unintentional errors off their circuit boards. However it's difficult to see such a happy ending here.

I suppose we'll see. Wim Wakker (who I suspect knows far more about the Chinese concertina industry than the rest of us) had some interesting things to say on a similar topic in this post in 2006: "Trade between China and the western world is not as primitive and brutal as [another c.net member] likes to believe.. . Any (free reed) manufacturer in China or the western world will think twice before violating a contract. Especially in a small and specialized world as ours. There are several trade organizations with mandatory membership that can make life very difficult for parties that do not play by the rules."

 

Daniel

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...Any (free reed) manufacturer in China or the western world will think twice before violating a contract...

Maybe that's a clue. Perhaps there was no contract signed?

 

As for the impact on western makers - I don't know. Music room seem to be saying that these boxes will cost over £1000 when in production and when you get into that price range you're starting to get to a level where you can go to a hybrid maker and have something made for you personally by a skilled craftsman, or go for more volume produced instruments of exceptional quality such as the Morse boxes. I think the majority of people in this price band would be doing their research before buying and the chinese offering is unlikely to seem very attractive as long as the alternatives are of such a high quality.

 

I'd think that the real market for these types of instrument is in the price band between instruments such as the Rochelle and the the quality hybrids. There's obviously a gap here with no quality products that I'm aware of. Certainly at £599 it seems on the money and really attractive - it would probably still be attractive at £699. Presumably with mass production there might be an opportunity to target this price band. I'd think the makers with most to lose would be Stagi.

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Weren't German and Italian boxes made by lower paid workers in the old days. maybe the Chinese will go the way that yamaha did and end up as desirable items.

 

I understand why a beginner would want a decent cheap instrument and I'm sure 'foreign' components get into quality made brands. Who is 'hand forging' the reeds for most hybrids?

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Weren't German and Italian boxes made by lower paid workers in the old days. maybe the Chinese will go the way that yamaha did and end up as desirable items.

 

I understand why a beginner would want a decent cheap instrument and I'm sure 'foreign' components get into quality made brands. Who is 'hand forging' the reeds for most hybrids?

 

I don't know about most, but Frank Edgley and Bob Tedrow use Antonelli which I think are completely made in Italy. Herrington and Marcus just say Italy. But I'm really not sure about the whole 'hand forging'.

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I don't know about most, but Frank Edgley and Bob Tedrow use Antonelli which I think are completely made in Italy. Herrington and Marcus just say Italy.

I may be wrong but I seem to recall that Normans use the best quality Antonelli reeds that Andy can get, which he then works some of his magic on.

 

As for copying designs, I believe that unfortunately the protection of your intellectual property is generally only as good as the lawyer you hire.

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Can someone explain to me how intellectual properties law can be applied to musical instrument? If you want to make a violon, would you have to pay anyone royalties? Why would it be different with a concertina? Also, didn't some known makers base their current designs on Wheatstones and Jeffries?

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Can someone explain to me how intellectual properties law can be applied to musical instrument? If you want to make a violon, would you have to pay anyone royalties? Why would it be different with a concertina? Also, didn't some known makers base their current designs on Wheatstones and Jeffries?

Well I don't know whether it's intellectual property or some thing you'd patent or copyright or what. Many of the makers have come up with their own tricks to produce their instruments which are adaptations of more traditional designs. For instance Andy Norman doesn't necessarily stick to traditional Victorian materials or designs - he's come up with a design based upon his experience and the wide variety of materials available to him in the late C20th and early C21st. What he has produced is not a copy of an antique - it's a modern instrument - but obviously draws heavily on traditional elements as well. It's that experience, material use and design work that's allegedly being cloned. That's the part that makes a Norman so different from a Morse which is in turn different from a Marcus or something else. It may seem like it would be obscure or negligible, but you can feel it and you can hear it and it's one of the things that makes each maker's instruments unique to them.

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Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; ideas, discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions.

 

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property)

 

I agree that some of the hybrids are very good instruments in their own right - Norman included. But they all sound to me like the same animal. They are all noticeably different -- to the player, at any rate—than a concertina made with traditional reeds, such as a Suttner, Carroll, Dipper, Wakker, et. al. I really don't see how Andrew Norman has designed something remarkably different from any other hybrid concertina. His concertinas are well made but as far as the design goes, I don't see what is so different that it could be copyrighted and count as intellectual property.

 

I agree with Azalin here. Could you patent a fiddle design? Isn't it the skill of execution that really matters? Given that concertinas have been around in their present form for 170 years now it's hard to see what patenting would accomplish or how somebody could be said to be copying Andrew Norman's design rather than, say, Wheatstone's or Tedrow's design. There are differences, to be sure, but are they such that they would constitute "intellectual property?"

 

I didn't see them, but apparently somebody did take an Andrew Norman concertina to China and say, "Copy this, please." But he might just as well have taken a Morse or an Edgley or any other hybrid concertina. What is it about the Norman that is so markedly different that in itself it is not a copy of an existing concertina design? If somebody can work with the Chinese to make a concertina as good as Andrew Norman's for less than half the price, and fill that gap in the market, then Andrew Norman should get on the next plane to China and help them develop the next best instrument in the world of hybrid concertinas.

Edited by David Levine
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Can someone explain to me how intellectual properties law can be applied to musical instrument? If you want to make a violon, would you have to pay anyone royalties? Why would it be different with a concertina? Also, didn't some known makers base their current designs on Wheatstones and Jeffries?

Well I don't know whether it's intellectual property or some thing you'd patent or copyright or what. Many of the makers have come up with their own tricks to produce their instruments which are adaptations of more traditional designs. For instance Andy Norman doesn't necessarily stick to traditional Victorian materials or designs - he's come up with a design based upon his experience and the wide variety of materials available to him in the late C20th and early C21st. What he has produced is not a copy of an antique - it's a modern instrument - but obviously draws heavily on traditional elements as well. It's that experience, material use and design work that's allegedly being cloned. That's the part that makes a Norman so different from a Morse which is in turn different from a Marcus or something else. It may seem like it would be obscure or negligible, but you can feel it and you can hear it and it's one of the things that makes each maker's instruments unique to them.

 

I understand perfectly, but my question is, can you protect such an 'invention' ? I mean, let's say you make a violon with some subtelties that make it a bit different than traditional violons, and try to 'patent' it so that no other can use the same technique or design as yours... would this work for a musical instrument? I never heard of such thing.

 

I always assumed that you always could try to copy any musical instrument but you need to be talented to be able to reproduce an existing instrument while keeping the same precision and quality as the original one. Cloning a musical instrument isnt like cloning an iPod, where you can have machinery doing this.

 

Anyway, my real point is, it remains to be proven that someone will actually be able to reproduce a Norman with the same quality for cheaper. They can try to copy everything from Norman, but do the mysterious chinese maker have the same craftmanship and will he spend as much effort as Norman would on the box? I remember reading the same stuff about watches many years ago... you could find copies of Swatch watches made in China, and they were much cheaper... but the thing is, they are poorly made and will break after a few months. Swatch was concerned not about them being copied, but about them using their brand name. So I think there is a big fuss over nothing, no maker will go out of business and the copycats will come and go but talented makers will stay.

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I hope Andrew is in a position to take some kind of legal action. I know how frustrating it is to have someone copy/steal your work. We’ve been there ourselves. Because of our experience, I’ve developed a very low tolerance when it comes to people ‘borrowing’ someone’s work. That is the reason why our clover/peacock project is behind schedule. I developed a completely new reed pan for these instruments which first needs to be protected before we’ll make them available.

 

I would just like t point out a few facts to put everything in perspective:

First of all, the design was not stolen by the Chinese or the music room, but as Stephen pointed out by someone in Ireland. Insiders know who we’re talking about…

 

The standard procedure for outsourcing goes like this:

someone (usually a dealer) contacts a manufacturer in China (or Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe, etc.) and presents an instrument he wants to have produced. If this person does not have any patents or contracts protecting the instrument, the manufacturer is not under any obligation as far as exclusivity is concerned. It is not possible to get a patent on technical parts which have been used for decades by other manufacturers.

The manufacturer will have to invest his own money and time to produce the instruments. When the person that placed the order is not able to take delivery (quite often for financial reasons), the manufacturer is forced to try to sell the product on the free market. I guess that’s how the Music Room got the instruments.

 

The ‘Chinese’ seem to get blamed for a lot in this forum. Since no one seems to be willing/able to put these remarks in perspective, allow me to ventilate my experience and opinion about the Chinese free reed industry based on my own knowledge (9+ years of college education in this field) and 20+ years of professional experience.

The quality of the instruments made in China and sold in the west is determined by the people that order them, not the Chinese. If you order instruments from a Chinese manufacturer, and have no real technical knowledge about the instrument or fail to provide any specialized instructions or quality standards other than “the cheapest instrument possible”, than that’s exactly what you get. Many ‘higher’ quality instruments are also produced in China for western manufacturers which sell them under their own name.

In my experience the Chinese are very flexible as far as production processes are concerned, and eager to ‘please’ the customer, even with these small quantities. Concertinas are not mass produced. Even our Jackie/Rochelle etc. models are hand made. Our total entry level model production is only a fraction of what Wheatstone or Lachenal produced.

Chinese free reed engineers are just as knowledgeable as their European colleagues. I never understand why amateur (unschooled) free reed makers think that their knowledge of free reeds is superior to someone who has completed 4-6 years of college education in this field just because they live in a different part of the world…

 

I am glad to see that most c.net members are opposed to copying an existing instrument from a ‘living’ maker. Although I don’t understand why this does not go for Steve Dickinson’s instruments, of which exact copies (including design mistakes) are sold and even marketed as such… I hope Steve receives some kind of reimbursement for being the owner of the design.

By the way, I think Steve Dickinson is one of the great concertina makers of the 20th century who was willing to take a very large financial risk to keep the Wheatstone brand alive and is quite underrated in this forum…

 

Wim Wakker

Concertina Connection Inc.

Wakker Concertinas

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Wim,

 

Thank you for the reply and echoing ( from a more experienced position than mine) my opinions on the subject.

 

More often than not, the abuses of patent and copyright are not by the manufacturer but by others who intervene.

 

Design elements can be trademarked, but if not, then the designer has let go his interest. This has recently been proved here in the states in lawsuits lost by both Fender and Gibson guitar companies.

 

If I was a retailer I would not sell bootlegged goods and perpetuate an alleged violation of someones rights.

And as a player/potential buyer I would not knowingly purchase bootlegged goods.

 

My position is also based on having been ripped off when a "friend" patented a design of mine and was in production before I was aware.

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Quote from Jeff H: "If I was a retailer I would not sell bootlegged goods and perpetuate an alleged violation of someones rights.

And as a player/potential buyer I would not knowingly purchase bootlegged goods."

 

My point exactly! No matter who is responsible for this "theft", responsible people should not reward it by selling or purchasing same.

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But how would you know if it was a copy of somebody's work if you'd never seen the previous work on which the copy was based?. And even if you had, how would you know that the inside was copied - assuming the outside was not an exact copy. It isn't like a street-corner Rolex that says "Rolex" on it. Presumably the copy won't say "Norman" on it.

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I didn't have the chance to look inside ...

Chris,

 

They appear to be the same as the one I was shown in Miltown Malbay a few weeks ago, in which case they're pretty much a direct rip-off of an A.C.Norman inside, as they are outside too. They're also under discussion in the (stickied) Current makes of concertina thread.

 

I had a VERY good look at one at Broadstairs folkweek. They are essentially a copy of an AC Norman standard model, inside and out. However- the quality is nowhere near a Norman. They are apparently built by the same company that are building the music rooms Sandpiper melodeons. The finished model of these is VERY impressive, but all the prototype melodeons varied form model to model.

 

Problems I can see with this new concertina are- It really needs METAL bushed buttons, not plastic, and it needs better quality bellows. I would also like to see a G/D model built when the prototype designs are finalised.

 

For the price though, I was very impressed and recommended one to a friend who was in the market for an upgrade, but on a very limited budget. He is very impressed with it as his first 30 key and I will keep you all updated as to how it goes as it gets played in. If the company that is making them can make them as nice as the sandpiper melodeons when they're finished, then they will be very nice concertinas. Only time will tell........

 

I have two AC norman concertinas, and I'm very impressed with both of them. Nice to hear such positive comments from JK about them too.

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