Gene Simmons wants to trademark a hand gesture rock music fans have been using for decades. Simmons, a founding member of the hard rock band KISS, has filed an application to trademark the “devil’s horns” hand gesture he often makes on stage and in photos, in which the index and pinky fingers and thumb are extended.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Simmons, whose KISS nickname is the Demon, recently filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to claim ownership of the gesture that he has been flashing to fans for years. In his signed declaration, which included a hand-drawing of the symbol, Gene claims he first used the gesture as part of KISS on Nov. 14, 1974, during the band’s Hotter Than Hell tour.
If Gene Simmons is successful in trademarking the now-universal move it would prohibit other musical artists from using the gesture during live shows or personal appearances. Gene’s reasoning is that if another “person, firm, corporation or association has the right to use said mark in commerce,” it could cause confusion or be deceiving to KISS fans.
While Gene Simmons hopes to trademark what has become his “devil’s horns” gesture, in American Sign Language, that same symbol means “I love you.” And while Gene points to the year 1974 as part of his case, it should be noted that Spiderman has long used a similar gesture. In addition, John Lennon used the hand move on the cover for the Beatles’ 1966 single “Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby.”
In the unlikely scenario that Gene Simmons’ trademark application is approved, the rocker would then be tasked with enforcing the mark. According to a legal expert for the Times, failure to enforce other entertainers’ use of the gesture could be considered “abandonment of the mark.”
Of course, Simmons, who once claimed “rock is dead,” has some people seeing red with his trademark application. One of Gene’s biggest critics is Wendy Dio, whose late husband Ronnie James Dio used the horns symbol as a member of Rainbow, Black Sabbath and during his solo career. Dio told The Wrap she thinks Gene Simmons’ attempt to trademark a symbol that was long synonymous with her husband is “disgusting.”
“To try to make money off of something like this is disgusting,” Wendy told The Wrap.
“[The gesture] doesn’t belong to anyone. … It’s a public domain; it shouldn’t be trademarked. It’s laughable, I think, quite honestly. I think he’s made a complete fool of himself. It’s disgusting; what does he want?”
On CBS’ The Talk, Sharon Osbourne, whose rock star husband Ozzy, is the longtime frontman of Black Sabbath, said Simmons is crazy to think he invented the move.
“He’s crazy,” Osbourne said of Simmons.
“He’s just trying to get money from the merch where you see this. [The symbol] in Italian means ‘the devil,’ so kids at concerts have been doing it for years and years. In ’74? Where were you in the ’60s when kids were doing this? Stop trying to make money from posters and t-shirts. You’ve got enough.”
It’s no surprise that rock fans have also taken issue with Gene Simmons’ off-the-wall patent request, especially Ronnie James Dio fans.
If anybody deserves royalties for the "devil horns" it's Ronnie James Dio. #GeneSimmons needs to sit down.— Marc Damon (@MarcDamon1) June 15, 2017
Gene Simmons is the Donald Trump of Rock&Roll. His talent is grossly exaggerated, all he cares about is money, and his demeanor is repugnant— Everyone's Devil (@BrackenMacLeod) June 15, 2017
Good luck trademarking the American Sign Language sign for "I love you," Gene Simmons.— Maggie Serota ???? (@maggieserota) June 14, 2017
Well before he filed for the patent, Gene Simmons claimed ownership of the satanic symbol in a TV interview, saying he “invented” it while trying to awkwardly wave to female fans at his shows while he had a pick for his bass in his hand. You can see Simmons’ version of how he came up with the symbol in the video below.
[Featured Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]