Music and Intellectual Property

Name:King Flute Philippines Inc.
Country / Territory:Philippines
IP right(s):Industrial Designs, Trademarks
Date of publication:May 30, 2011
Last update:March 6, 2015

King Flute, Philippines

The King Flute Philippines Inc.
trademark (Image: IP Philippines)

Dante Ursula is a musician, creator and entrepreneur who, in 1991, established King Flute Philippines Inc. (King Flute), a musical instruments manufacturer in Quezon City, Luzon Island, in the Republic of the Philippines (Philippines).

The musician-turned-entrepreneur has become an award-winning creator with a growing musical instruments business whose harmonious sounds are gaining the ear of local and international clients.

Research and development

Mr. Ursula’s leading creation was a stylish, bamboo-made flute. This simple yet novel idea came to him in a roundabout way. Playing several instruments as a high school student (saxophone, violin and trombone), the musician turned his love of music into experiments with traditional instruments during summer vacations in Caridad, Qeuzon City. After ten years, the creator finally perfected flutes made of bamboo: “Bamboo is something exotic and indigenous, not to mention very abundant here in South East Asia…[and] I thought wind instruments are like pipes, so why can’t I make my own instrument using bamboo. So I began to do a research and feasibility study (with bamboo instruments),” he said.

Mr. Ursula’s bamboo flutes are made with simple designs, good quality materials, and are easy to learn and use. They produce elusive, soothing sounds that are popular in Asia and are gaining popularity elsewhere in the world, especially in North America.

Manufacturing Mr. Ursula’s flutes was originally a long and labor-intensive process of trial-and-error, requiring skill and dedication. The flute maker gathered raw materials – the “bahi–bahian”, or mature bamboo poles – locally. Because the instruments are hand-made, the tube–like grass has to be cut into four to six different sizes. Holes are bored into the bamboo using special hot rods – another one of Mr. Ursula’s innovations.

Bamboo in the Philippines (Photo: Flickr/Jonathan S.
Ighara)

After ten years and approximately 3, 000 bamboo poles, the musician produced his earliest, satisfactory proto-types that would play near-perfect tunes with applications for a variety of musical styles including classical, jazz, “pop” and Original Filipino Music (OPM).

In order to further the instrument’s research and development (R&D), in 1981 the creator single-handedly established a makeshift workshop called King Flute Philippines (K F P) on an island in Caridad, Quezon City.

With minimal capital and only four part-time employees, K F P incorporated aesthetic and functional elements into the original flute’s design, such as the nito (or vine rings which surrounded the flute’s pipe), and spray-painted the instrument’s main body. These additions increased the product’s attractiveness, function and value. As Mr. Ursula said, “My bamboo flute is not a plaything, it’s a musical instrument. I use an electronic tuner to perfect the notes of the flute.”

After spending several years selling his early instruments on the sidewalks in Manila, in 1999 the creator incorporated his labor-of-love workshop into a new company – King Flute. In so doing, Mr. Ursula was able to manufacture more flutes and meet the increase in demand from increasingly satisfied clients and customers.

In order to stay competitive and satisfy consumer demand, King Flute has developed a wide range of products that it markets to an eclectic clientele. The company’s simple, hand crafted, easy-to-use, and high quality bamboo instruments produce smooth sounds and are popular with professionals, collectors and first-time buyers and players. Made in three models (a 10 inch flute in the standard key of C; a 14 inch pipe in the key of Bb and an 18 inch flute in the key of G) and unlike many traditional bamboo flutes, King Flute instruments are accompanied by a simplified, free musical notation based on a letter-coding system. Labeled “Kingflute Playing–Made–Easy”, the flute’s codes make it easier for the novice player to learn how to play the instrument and the free song sheet that accompanies each purchase.

Commercialization

Regularly creating new instruments to attract a wider range of buyers, the company also produces micro-flutes (the world’s smallest flute) and the pan flute (a traditional, three–octave instrument which the creator personalizes with original patterns). The pan flute in particular is renowned for producing tranquil, spirit-lifting sounds evocative of the simple beauty of nature.

Although Mr. Ursula sold his instruments on Manila’s street sides for the first six years, King Flute now commercializes its goods through a network of local and international dealerships and trade fairs. In 2010, for instance, the company traded its flutes at the Orgullo Kan Bikol (OKB) fair, a trade-promotion-show for entrepreneurs in the Philippines. By creating several high quality and easy to use instruments, the company has expanded production and commercialization opportunities whilst attracting new customers and clients.

King Flute manufacturers all of Mr. Ursula’s flutes and supplies several dealerships in the Philippines and one in the United States of America (USA).

Industrial designs and trademarks

In order to protect his creation for a “combined flute case and cover”, in 1998 Mr. Ursula filed for an industrial design registration at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines). 

Quezon City, Philippines (Photo: Flickr/Jun Acullador)

Seeking to protect his company’s corporate name, in 1999 the creator filed a trademark for King Flute Philippines™ with a design (crown device) at IP Philippines. 

With a trademarked name and registered design, the musician is able to market his products both at home and abroad confident that the company’s intellectual property rights (IPRs) are legally protected. 

Business results

Mr. Ursula’s bamboo flutes business has grown both locally and internationally while winning prizes and peer-group recognition for the creator. Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., for example, awarded the creator and his company “The Most Innovative Environmental Livelihood Project” award in the Philippines.King Flute instruments are not only gaining corporate fans, they are also being played right into the orchestra of Filipino national consciousness. Mr. Ursula’s flutes have been endorsed by the Department of Education in the country and are recommended for use by students at all school levels.

As of 2010, the company had several instruments available on the Internet including Kingflute w/case Key G (US $ 39.95), Pan Flute (US $54. 95), and Kingflute Key of C (US $19.95). From small-scale sales on sidewalks in Manila to national trade fairs, international distribution companies and the mainstream of Filipino schools, King Flute has become a million pesos a month manufacturer of easy to use, beautifully crafted bamboo flutes.

Following national and international successes, in 2001 Mr. Ursula was recognized by his peers and became a member of the prestigious Filipino’s Inventors Society.

Playing music in the key of IP

Mr. Dante Ursula was inspired to experimentation and creation by his natural love of music and ability to play musical instruments. Playing music in the streets of Manila while developing his bamboo flutes, the creator established a workshop, registered his design and launched into business. His subsequent success showed that creation and IP do harmoniously flow together.