KISS frontman and lead singer, Gene Simmons, has reportedly filed an application with the US Trademark and Patent Office to trademark the infamous “devil horns” rock hand gesture.
The application, along with a handy diagram, was filed last Friday, 9 June 2017.
Simmons claims to be the first to use the gesture commercially on Nov. 14, 1974, during the KISS Hotter Than Hell tour.
The application lists the reason for filing for the purposes of:
Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.”
However, critics argue that Simmons was not the first to use the hand gesture as John Lennon can be seen making the signal on the cover of The Beatles’ 1966 single, ‘Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby’.
Others credit Black Sabbath frontman, Ronnie James Dio for making the gesture popular.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, for Simmons’ application to be successful:
an examiner would consider the likelihood of confusion and, possibly, whether it’s too generic to be associated with Simmons.”
Given that the signal is the American Sign Language equivalent for love; can be seen in slightly different form in Spider-Man; appears in Bram Stoker’s Dracula; is sometimes used in Italian culture as a superstitious sign to ward off the devil; and is also used to cheer on sporting teams at various events, it will be very interesting to see whether Simmons’ application is successful.
After a firestorm of criticism from the music community and media outlets, it seems that Gene Simmons has come to his senses and withdrawn his application to trademark the “devil horns” hand gesture.
The decision is a sensible one. It is highly unlikely that Simmons’ application would have been successful since the “rock” hand gesture is a generic symbol commonly used by other artists and music lovers around the world.
The good news is that you and your friends can continue to make your “rock on” hands with reckless abandon this coming Splendour in the Grass and for all future gigs.