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Kiss Frontman Applies To Trade Mark ‘Devil Horn’ Gesture

This week details emerged regarding KISS frontman, Gene Simmons, and an application at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it has emerged that Simmons has applied to register his infamous ‘devil horn’ hand gesture, which consists of the index and small finger pointed upwards and the thumb extended, as a trademark. Simmons is claiming the mark specifically for musical performances.

When the news of this emerged this week, a flurry of online critics rushed to point out that the gesture has been used by many others for many years. Simmons has stated in his filing that he was the inventor of the hand sign which he popularised in 1974 during the Hotter Than Hell Tour however others have stated this isn’t the case.

The Hollywood reporter pointed out that Wikipedia dates the hand gesture back to the 5th Century when it was used by Buddhists. In addition to this, it also means ‘I love you’ in American Sign Language. Not only this but the hand sign was used on the Beatles 1966 album cover Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby; by rock bands Black Sabbath and Geezer Butler; and more recently, Spiderman.

The gesture will be carefully considered by the USPTO who will ultimately decide if the trademark is too generic to be associated just with Simmons. Given the evidence of prior use by other musicians it is unlikely that the USPTO will decide this is capable of distinguishing Simmons from other musicians.  If Simmons is successful, however, the difficult question will be just how he will enforce his rights.