Yamaha Authorized the World’s First Copyright for Accompaniment Style Data Incorporated in Its Electronic Musical Instruments
Yamaha Has Secured a Favorable Ruling and Reached a Favorable Settlement in Its Copyright Infringement Lawsuit in China

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Yamaha Corporation (Head Office: 10-1, Nakazawa-cho, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka; President: Mitsuru Umemura; hereinafter: Yamaha) brought a lawsuit against Deli Electronics (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. (Head Office: Shenzhen, Guangdong; hereinafter, Deli Electronics), a Chinese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, and three other companies in the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court in November 2006, regarding infringement of copyrights on accompaniment style data (hereinafter, Style Data), incorporated in its electronic musical instruments, that was created originally by Yamaha. In its lawsuit, Yamaha requested that the defendants be required to cease the use of its Style Data and suspend sales of products incorporating this Style Data. In December 2007, the Court, after proceeding with a portion of its deliberations on evidence, issued a judgment recognizing Yamaha’s claims as justifiable about the portion.

Thereafter, the defendants did not begin appeal procedures and the Court’s judgment was finalized. In addition, following deliberations on further evidence other than that already examined, the Court issued a settlement proposal to Yamaha and the defendants, in consideration of its previously issued judgment, and a settlement favorable for Yamaha was reached on April 29, 2008.

The Court’s judgment was the first in the world to recognize that “Style Data is intellectual property that is subject to protection under copyright laws” and that “unauthorized copying of such Style Data is an infringement of copyrights.” Yamaha believes this judgment is an epoch-making legal development and holds the content of the settlement arbitrated by the Court in high regard since it recognizes virtually all of Yamaha’s assertions. Looking ahead, Yamaha will continue to work to respect and protect intellectual property and to take a resolute stand against the infringement of intellectual property rights.

1.Background of the Lawsuit

The four defendants in the lawsuit copied, without authorization from Yamaha, the Style Data contained in Yamaha’s PSR-640 portable keyboard, which Yamaha began to manufacture in 1999 and has sold throughout the world, including China. The defendants incorporated the Yamaha’s Style Data in their MEDELI-brand electronic musical instruments and then manufactured or sold these instruments in China. Yamaha, therefore, brought a lawsuit against these four companies on the grounds that their use of Yamaha’s Style Data represented infringement of its copyrights.

The Style Data of PSR-640 was copied onto the defendant’s MC-710 and five other electronic keyboard models, and each of the models contained approximately 70 among from the Style Data of PSR-640. Accordingly, Yamaha asserted there were a total of 425 infringements of its Style Data copyrights. Among these, in order to expedite its deliberations, the Court made a divisional trial that copying of 26 Style Data onto the MC-710 model represented infringement of Yamaha copyrights and proceeded with such partial deliberations, which led to the judgment described in section 2 below. In addition, following the examination of evidence other than that already examined, the Court proposed a settlement based on the judgment, which recognized Yamaha’s assertions, and a final settlement was reached.

2.Outline of the Judgment and Settlement

The Court’s judgment recognized virtually all of Yamaha’s assertions and contained the following major points:

  1. The Court recognized that Style Data is intellectual property that is to be protected under copyright laws.
  2. The Court recognized that Yamaha holds the copyright to the 26 Style Data that were examined and deliberated.
  3. In addition to recognizing that the actions of the defendants were violations of copyrights, the Court issued orders forbidding the use of Yamaha’s 26 Style Data in the defendants’ products and forbidding the sale of products incorporating Yamaha’s 26 Style Data. The Court also ordered the defendants to pay compensation for damages to Yamaha and to publish an apology in the newspapers.

The content of the settlement arbitrated by the Court was as follows. These points apply to all the remained Style Data other than the 26 Style Data of the above judgment.

  1. The defendants admit that the remained Style Data incorporated in the defendants’ keyboard models are the same as or similar to the Style Data of PSR-640 created by Yamaha.
  2. In addition to recognizing that the actions of the defendants were infringements of copyrights, the defendants do not use Yamaha’s Style Data in the defendant’s products nor sell the products incorporating Yamaha’s Style Data.
  3. The defendants pay compensation for damages to Yamaha, in addition to the compensation mentioned above.
  4. The defendants hand a letter of apology to Yamaha.

3.Outline of the Defendants

Defendant 1

Company nameDeli Electronics (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. (Head Office: Nanshan-qu, Shenzhen; Representative and President: Zheng Gang)
Lines of businessManufacturing of electronic musical instruments, etc.

Defendant 2

Company nameMedeli Electronics (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. (Head Office: Futian-qu, Shenzhen; Representative and President: Zheng Gang)
Lines of businessSales of musical instruments, etc.

Defendant 3

Company nameBeijing Guoyue Musical Instrument Store (Head Office: Chaoyang-qu, Beijing)
Lines of businessSales of musical instruments, etc.

Defendant 4

Company nameBeijing Tongyunju Musical Instrument Store (Head Office: Fengtai-qu, Beijing)
Lines of businessSales of musical instruments, etc.

Supplementary Information

Explanation of “Style Data” and Automatic Accompaniment Function

Yamaha’s automatic accompaniment function is an aid to music-making that allows the performer to play the melody, and, just by striking and holding a chord, electronic instruments equipped with this function then supply the accompaniment to the melody automatically. Yamaha classifies the genres of automatic accompaniments into various preset patterns, which include pop, jazz, latin, and dance music styles. Yamaha calls data of such music styles, that provides these accompaniments, “Style Data.”

Yamaha’s portable keyboards, electronic pianos, and other electronic musical instruments incorporate this automatic accompaniment capability as one of their key functions. Style Data is necessary for automatic accompaniment, but we believe the quality and sophistication of this Style Data is one of the key features that appeals to customers and encourages them to buy our products. Therefore, Yamaha is continuing to create and develop even more appealing Style Data at all times. However, this requires sophisticated creative capabilities and major investments.

For further information, please contact

Yamaha Corporation

Corporate Communications Division, Public Relations Group

  • TEL. +81-3-5488-6601
  • FAX. +81-3-5488-5060

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