Another copyright issue is hitting the Highland piping world, as Ayrshire Bagpipes of Troon, Scotland, have been asked by the makers of Qwik Tune guitar tuners to change the name of its recently released £39 Kwiktune Chanter Stock, or risk “compensatory damages and reimbursement of . . . legal costs.
Lawyers for the maker of the guitar-tuner, Evets Corporation of California, claim that the name is “confusingly similar” to trademark rights under European Union law. Evets claims that it has an international trademark on the name.
Brian Mulhearn, owner of Ayrshire Bagpipes, said that his own lawyer sees no confusion and is awaiting further correspondence on the matter. Mulhearn has no trademark on the Kwiktune name, but said that because packaging has been made and marketing has occurred, a change would be a significant blow to the company.
“It does what it says on the label: ‘It helps you tune your drones quicker and more accurately.’ So how can this be confused with a guitar?” Mulhearn said. “We are only trying to help the piping world and make a living at the same time.”
The Kwiktune chanter stock is intended to be an aid for new pipers who want to practice tuning their drones without having to remove their chanter. The stock features a shut-off valve that stops the flow of air to the chanter with a simple twist.
While the Highland piping and drumming market has grown in the last three decades to become a worldwide industry worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it often lacks formal business practices, such as patent and trademark research and protection. Most patentable innovations developed over the last 30 years are left exposed to copying, usually because of the investment involved in securing an international patent.
Trademark registration is, however, usually straightforward and inexpensive, but relatively few products in piping and drumming are protected.
Copyright law regarding bagpipe and pipe band drumming compositions has been a contentious topic for many years, with the rights-owners of major reproductions and broadcasts of pipe music and performances left uncompensated for their work.
Most recently, the publication of the large Scots Guards Standard Settings of Pipe Music Volune III revealed that the rights-holders to many of the original compositions in the collection were not asked for permission by the publisher, Novello Publishing of London, one of the world’s largest music publishers.