I did a search through the archives and read up on the peace symbol, but does anybody own it’s image? For example, if I wanted to use it on a bunch of t-shirts I was going to sell in stores, would I have to buy the rights from someone?
I suspect that you’re probably safe. I doubt that Mr. Holtom was thinking in terms of compensation when he designed it and I do not ever remember seeing the symbol with a ® or a ™ connected to it.
Like the Smiley Face, I don’t think it was ever patented.
“The Direct Action Committee, a group pushing for nuclear disarmament, invented the peace symbol in 1958. The forked symbol is actually a composite of the semaphore signals “N” and “D,” to stand for nuclear disarmament.” (http://www.angelfire.com/ca6/uselessfacts/invent/004.html)