Can You Really Trademark a Hand Gesture? Gene Simmons Thinks So
Rock and Roll hall-of-famer, Gene Simmons, filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to establish the devil horns hand sign as his own trademark.
Typically seen at rock concerts, Mr. Simmons alleges he was the first to use the famous pinky-index-thumb gesture during KISS' Hotter Than Hell tour in the fall of 1974. If approved, Simmons' claim of the trademark, according to the application, would be enforced in "entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist."
The U.S. Trademark Office is tasked with determining whether the hand movement is too generic and universal of a motion to be connected to any single entity in particular, Simmons included. For instance, the gesture has been associated with the American Sign Language signal meaning "I love you" and the popular rock myth of the late Ronnie James Dio, largely credited with popularizing the legendary hand movement.
In what appears to be a press-seeking stunt, the attempt to trademark such an iconic gesture on the part of Mr. Simmons is not a very practical one. It is not clear just how the Patent Office, or any other entity for that matter, will go about monitoring the practice of the movement nor discerning its use as accidental or intentional.
Simmons is no stranger to bold, outlandish statements and gestures (pun intended). In a 2016 Rolling Stones interview, the KISS frontman expressed his disdain for hip-hop music, stating "I am looking forward to the death of rap."