The design which is now universally known as the "Peace Symbol" (AKA the "Peace Sign") was originally designed in 1958 by professional artist Gerald Holtom, for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in London, England. Mr. Holtom is quoted as saying that the design was intended to indicate the letters N(uclear) and D(isarmament).
In semaphore the letter "N" is formed by a person holding two flags in an inverted "V," and the letter "D" is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. Superimposing these two signs forms the shape of the center of the peace symbol.
In short time the symbol made its appearance in the USA after Bayard Rustin, a close associate of Martin Luther King, saw it being used in 1958 at the first major anti-nuclear march, from Trafalgar Square, London to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston. He took the symbol back to the United States where it was used on civil rights marches, and later it appeared on anti-Vietnam War demonstrations.
In subsequent years it has been widely incorporated into ongoing struggles for freedom around the world, from Sarajevo and Belgrade, to Argentina and East Timor ~ wherever the citizens have stood up to oppression and war.
The original "Peace Symbol" design has deliberately never been copyrighted ~ it is a symbol of freedom, and as such, is free for all.
Information source: Wikipedia