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Gene Simmons attempts to trademark ‘devil horns’ hand gesture

By | Published on Thursday 15 June 2017

Gene Simmons

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has filed a trademark application in the US for the ‘devil horns’ hand gesture now synonymous with rock and metal. He apparently claims that he came up with it and therefore any other artists who use it should pay him a royalty.

According to his filing, Simmons first used the hand gesture in a commercial setting on 14 Nov 1974, which The Hollywood Reporter reckons would be during Kiss’s ‘Hotter Than Hell’ tour that year.

The claim is specifically aiming to trademark use of the symbol for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist”. This suggests that Simmons is hoping to monetise other artists’ tendency to flash the horns at their own shows.

This application presumably partly rests on Simmons being able to prove that he did indeed come up with the idea of pointing his index and little finger in the air. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, there are other settings in which it is used. Sticking with commercial use in music, John Lennon makes a similar sign on the cover of the ‘Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby’ double A-side single.

Meanwhile, in American Sign Language the gesture means “I love you”, and in some countries your attempt to express your love of loud music might be read as an implication that another man’s wife is cheating on him.

Also, when I was about eight, my friend Ray said that it was the worst hand sign you could make because it meant “every swearword at once”.

I’d be sceptical, but Ray also said that he’d done it to a passing car and the driver had skidded to a halt, crashing into another parked car, and then chased him because he was so offended. I don’t think Ray would lie about something like that.

Simmons’ trademark filing doesn’t say what he believes the sign to actually mean, just that he reckons he owns it.



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