Gene Simmons Drops ‘Devil’s Horns’ Hand Gesture Trademark Application
First Published 24 June 2017
Gene Simmons has seen sense and abandoned his trademark application on the ‘Devil’s Horns’ hand gesture that he originally filed on 9th June with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Simmons expressly abandoned the application on June 20th.
In his original applciation the Kiss vocalist/bassist claimed the gesture was first used in commerce on November 14th 1974, a date that corresponds with Kiss’ ‘Hotter Than Hell’ tour.
Simmons was widely slammed by most music fans and commentators for the trademark request, saying the symbol has become ubiquitous and means different things to different people while Ronnie James Dio’s widow Wendy also criticized Simmons for his attempt to trademark the hand sign. She told TheWrap:
“To try to make money off of something like this is disgusting. It belongs to everyone — it doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s a public domain, it shouldn’t be trademarked.”
Trademark attorney Michael Cohen of Cohen IP Law Group in Beverly Hills, who deal with trademark, patent and copyright infringement cases, told the Los Angeles Times that it would have been very difficult for Simmons’s application to be approved because the gesture has become “genericized”.
When asked if it was Ronnie James Dio who actually started the gesture, Simmons said:
“Well, I’ve heard Ronnie say that to my face and I said, ‘God bless you’. I mean him no ill will, but I think he’s wrong. Mine came from Spider-man doing his hand signal, as a homage to him. If you see me in photos, I’m sticking out my thumb. That’s the sign in sign language which means ‘I love you’.”
In 2004, Steve Appleford of LA CityBEAT conducted a “survey” of Heavy Metal musicians regarding the origins of the ‘devil’s horns’ hand sign. Appleford said:
“Gene Simmons wrote in his 2002 autobiography that it was his accidental invention, the inadvertent gesture of a great man, repeated at concerts and picked up by fans. Not likely. Former Black Sabbath shouter Ronnie James Dio also takes the credit, first raising the horns before joining the band in 1978. And he’s expressed alarm over the image of Britney Spears fans raising the sign at concerts by the dancing diva of lip-synched pop.”
When Appleford asked Lemmy about the source of the ‘devil’s horns’ hand sign, noting the casual claims of Gene Simmons, Lemmy replied:
“Well, he would, wouldn’t he? He is so eeevilll. Come on, gimme a fucking break.”
Lars Ulrich of Metallica said:
“That’s got to be Ronnie James Dio. I remember Rainbow used to play in Denmark about every half hour, so I used to go see it every half hour. And Ronnie James Dio did a lot of that. Back in 75, 76, 77, it was all about Rainbow and Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy.”
In a separate interview, James Hetfield said:
“I think Dio,” before continuing with a smile: “I think Spider-Man originally. It’s also ‘I love you’ in sign language. I don’t know, I think it’s ‘Two more songs!’ — you know.”
So that’s the end of that then. We’re taking what Wendy said above as the final word on the matter.