SIGNWRITING FREE TO USE?
Questions & Answers About
1. Is SignWriting Free To Use? Yes!!
2. Do People Pay Royalties For Using SignWriting?
No. There is not one person who works with SignWriting, including
the inventor Valerie Sutton, who has ever received one penny
in royalties for the invention of SignWriting.
3. What Is A Copyright?
The symbol for copyright is a "c with a circle around it".
Copyrights are connected with publications. When you see the
copyright symbol on a publication, it means that you cannot make
copies of the publication without the author's or publisher's
4. Is The "R With A Circle Around It" A Copyright Symbol?
No. That is not a copyright symbol. It is a trademark symbol.
5. What Is A Trademark?
Trademarks are connected with "names". They are "brand
names" for products that are "registered" with
the Patent and Trademark Office in Washington DC. When you see
the trademark symbol next to a name, it means that the "name"
is legally connected with a specific product, developed by a
specific group. The group went to the trouble and expense to
officially register their "brand name", so that no
one else could use that name for a similar product. This is good
for society, because consumers then know, by the name alone,
what they are buying and who manufactured it. Similar products
manufacured by other groups must be given a totally different
name, which they in turn can register as a trademark if they
6. Is The Name "SignWriting" Trademarked?
Yes. "SignWriting" is a registered trademark of the
Center For Sutton Movement Writing, the non-profit organization
which sponsors the Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting (the
The trademark "SignWriting" is always written with
a capital "S" and a capital "W". It is the
"brand name" for the signed language notation system
invented by Valerie Sutton, and further developed by the DAC.
When you write it with capital letters, it is equivalent to saying
7. Does That Mean That SignWriting Is "Owned" by Sutton?
No...no more than Dr. Stokoe "owns" the Stokoe system.
Writing systems cannot be "owned" by anyone. No one
would write with them, if they were restricted!
8. Are There Other Trademarks In Connection
Yes. The Center For Sutton Movement Writing has registered five
"SignWriting" in connection with signed language notation
"SignWriter", in connection with "SignWriter Newsletter"
"SignWriter", in connection with "SignWriter Computer
"SignBank" in connection with "SignBank Computer
"DanceWriting" in connection with dance notation
9. What Does The "TM" Symbol Mean?
Registered Trademarks use an "R with a circle around it".
Non-Registered Trademarks use "TM". A Registered Trademark
has been filed and accepted as an official trademark by the Trademark
& Patent Office in Washington DC. In other words, the government
knows about it. A Non-Registered Trademark has not been filed
for registration yet, or registration is pending. Groups must
use the "TM" symbol until it is registered.
10. What Is A Patent?
A patent is different than a copyright or trademark. It protects
a device and how it is designed. Patents protect physical things,
not language or thoughts. Writing systems are therefore not patented.
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001
Sender: SignWriting List <SW-L@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA>
From: Valerie Sutton <Sutton@SIGNWRITING.ORG>
Subject: A question about copyrights...
August 31, 2001
Dear SW List:
I just received this question from a SignWriting List member:
>I'm curious to know, what kind of legalisation you have on
>mean ... I know in some cases you need to purchase the SignWriter,
but sometimes you can have it straight and free via Internet.
Also, the literature and other stuff similar to that can be purchased,
but...is using the SW-system free for every one or not? What
I mean is, is the whole writing system secured somehow ( does
it have some kind of patent or something) or is it just the normal
copyright - laws that are applied to all the SW-material...?
I'm just wondering, if there's any rules I should be aware of,
while considering using it?
Thanks for the question. It is frequently asked! ;-)
SignWriting is free for you to use. You
can write by hand or type by computer using the SignWriting symbols
and there are NO royalty fees (or any kind of restrictions).
I want you to use it...that is the point!
The SignWriting system and trademarks
are protected under general copyright and trademark laws. You
are free to publish using SignWriting. When you publish, follow
the normal copyright and trademark procedure that all publishers
follow...giving credit to the invention and trademarks on the
copyright page of your publication. If you choose to publish,
I can send you the copyright statement for you to paste on the
So you have no fear...go right ahead
and use it, as everyone else does!
In regards to buying materials or downloading
them for free on the web...
Anything I place on the web for download
is there for you to use
freely. So go right ahead and use everything placed on the web....
Some people want to purchase printed
copies and CDs. It costs money for me to print them, so I have
to charge them money. There is also postage involved. But you
are not required to purchase anything.
There are some people who do not know computers well, and downloading
seems hard to them...so purchasing the program makes sense to
To see the Catalog List of available
materials in SignWriting, go to:
I hope this answer helps!
SignWriting List Archives:
Please feel free to write if you have questions.
Committee for SignWriting
Center For Sutton Movement
educational nonprofit organization
P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
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