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PHYLLIS FURUMOTO  on Trademarking issues - 9 October 1997

The following is an extract from a speech by Phyllis Furumoto at the UK Reiki Association Annual Gathering, 1997:

I have been asked to speak about trade marks and what is really happening.
It is always hard to know where to start, so I will start at the way beginning. When I was traveling with my grandmother for the first time, heard her speak and met with the masters that she had initiated, it was clear for me that there was an agreement or understanding taking place that I did not really receive but I knew that was in the air. Then once I had travelled and been with her again the next year it was really clear for me that I had been imparted with something. We did not really know what it was, but we knew what we were supposed to do with it. Which was to practice!
For years afterwards we, the masters that she initiated, practiced. The ones that I had close contact with did not even think about changing anything, even though we had lots of questions. For example there was a time in my second year of teaching after she died when I went through this crisis around charging people for First Degree. But I never thought about changing the amount of money or dropping it. What I did was, I stopped teaching until I could figure out what was happening in me. This was a natural process for me. Then in about the late 1980's, early '90's, changes started happening. Mostly through the initiation of masters in a very short time period; so in a space of a year there might be one master who would initiate another master who would initiate another master. There might he six generations in one year.
During this time it was obvious that the changes came from people hearing something different from what was being communicated and then passing that on through their own filter. We are all familiar with that particular part of our human communication system. The other thing that started to happen more and more was that people consciously changed the system. They added symbols, or they charged less, or did not charge any money at all. They were not satisfied with the way that the Precepts were written so they changed the wording. They changed the initiation process, the actual ritual of initiation and now they have changed the number of initiations for 1 st degree and for 2nd degree. The list goes on and on.
During this time I was often asked "What is the definition of the Usui System?" At that moment, 7 or 8 years ago, I really could not say anything. I knew it in my body, I knew it in myself, I knew it in my practice. I did not know how to communicate it. So I started to pay attention to my communication and Paul Mitchell and I began a series of seminars called 'Master lntensives'. We sat with groups of Masters and spoke about this definition of the Usui System. It was during this time that I realized that there was actually something that had been passed to me that I had held and kept, as part of a covenant that my grandmother had given me. I realized that as a Master part of my responsibility and my task was to hold this Form in stewardship. That was my part of this covenant in being initiated as a Master. Takata gave me the gift and my responsibility was to keep it faithfully. I realized that my discomfort with a lot of the changes was that I did not know what the changes would do, but I knew that it was somehow a violation of something, although I did not know what it was. I soon realized that it was a violation of this covenant that had been handed to me and understood by the Masters at that time.
So, then I began to look at whether it would be possible to honor everyone: honoring individual process and also being able to hold the Usui System in its identity. To create a process where this system, the Usui System, would be held in its wholeness; not just for me, but so that in 100 years from now, people will be able to have this very same gift. I know that the changes have not affected my practice nor my teaching, however I wanted the System to have longevity. So I began a search to find a way to do this.
Then something came up in the community when trademarks were filed in Germany by another Master, a student of mine who felt like I was not doing my job, so he did it for me. He filed for these trademarks, got them registered and then started sending letters to everyone, not including me, but people very close to me, saying that they could not practice Reiki in Germany because he owned the trademark! So that was very interesting! It motivated me to find out more about trademarks.
I took 2 or 3 years to research this, to find out for myself what the process was, what it was really about and whether it could be useful for this practice. A little under a year ago I decided that I would like to start a process that would lead the community into owning their trademarks for this particular discipline and to create a program for masters where those who practiced through this lineage could be identified, recognized by the public and by themselves alike. This would involve something that we call licensing. 
So I have spoken to many attorneys and Reiki masters collecting their advice. Eventually I wrote a letter that came out at the very beginning of April. It was written in March and came out at the beginning of April. This went out to all the masters on my mailing list. Basically it outlined a plan that was already starting to take form. Masters of other countries who heard about this German process went to their trade mark offices and filed for the trademarks themselves. Then they called me up and said "Well, I have these trademarks and I'd like to give them to you because I shouldn't hold them as just one Master, I want you to hold them as the Lineage Bearer for this System." This was a real challenge for me, because at that point I did not know whether I wanted to do this or not. So after deciding to accept these requests I decided to transfer all the trademarks into my name.
Trademarks can be a way of control but they do not work very well in this context. For me they are more a modern day way of honoring of what is. If somebody has introduced a concept or an idea, it is their right to have the say about what happens to this particular concept, practice or invention. This is a way that we can communicate world-wide these particular identities. So when I decided to trademark Reiki I was not trademarking 'Reiki, the universal life energy'. It is trade marking the word Reiki in relationship to the identification of the Usui System: for me these two words 'Usui System of Natural Healing' and 'Reiki' are used interchangeably. It is important for me to find out whether these two phrases are actually, by the trademark office's definition, in the public domain, can anybody can trademark them? That is what I want to know and the only way to do that is to actually file for them. If I would get them then I would have the possibility of allowing people to use them or not.
I have no interest in creating a situation where students of Reiki have fear of their practice . When you file for a trademark you file for different classes. So, for example if you wanted to file so that people could not make Reiki T-shirts then you would file in one particular class; if you wanted to file in a class where they could not print it on a business card then that would be another class. If you wanted to file it so that people could not put Reiki on a drinking glass then you would file it in another class. If you want to be clear about who teaches then you file in another class. That is the class I am filing it in and it is the only class I am filing it in. It is quite obvious that I cannot enforce anything that looks like Reiki T-shirts or Reiki books, Reiki pamphlets or advertisements, that is not possible to maintain. I want to establish that the Usui System is a specific form of practice and that there are boundaries to this practice. Within it there is individual expression. Those people who have changed the system or who practice something that is inspired by, but is not quite, this Form, have the opportunity to name their system for themselves, whatever that might be, and to be clear about their own identity, so that we can be clear about ours.
I have responded in this situation through my calling as Grand Master. I don't have an attachment to whether or not I have the trademarks. What is important for me is that others cannot file for this trade mark and threaten the identity of this System
In these last few years of soul searching the question has been: "Is this really the right step, is this a melding that can actually work or will the energetic of all that I don't like about business enter into this practice and affect it?"
This is a really good question, it is a fear that a lot of people share. Behind that, I realized, the pain I was feeling was just simply that I have had to even consider this step. 13 years ago, I had a Master student come to me whose husband worked for the trademark office of the European Union. He said to me "Do you know, you should file for these trade marks now, because when the European Union comes in you would then have the right to the trademarks in all of these countries. If you never use them, it's OK, but at least you would have them." I said "There's absolutely no reason why I should do this." Over the years this has proven to be a mistake. It is not an action that I have done lightly. It is not an action that I have done without pain. I still carry that pain. I feel moved because of the quality of this practice that has been sustained comes from this core of Masters Takata initiated. I want this to be sustained for the next generations.
I also want to say to the people who are practicing their own form: that is really OK for me. I just want them to have their own name, that is all. I want them to be able to identify themselves and to say "I have changed it, and I know I've changed it and this is what it's called" If it is a really clear distinction, then that is great. I am happy and then other people can choose for themselves. But, to go into something and find out that what you have learned as the Usui System, is not the Usui System, indeed hardly recognizable, is a very sad thing.
So, some people say that I am changing the System because, for them, they do not know that some of this is the Form, but that the definition and Form that I put out right now is the one that I was given by Takata and the one that is carried by her Masters.

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