KISS’ bassist and singer Gene Simmons seems to be a bit confused by the gesture that he uses in concert.
Simmons regularly holds his thumb, first and last finger in the air during shows as a salute. He may think that he is using the infamous “devil’s horns” but that gesture, as made famous by people like Ronnie James Dio, actually also holds the thumb to the palm.
Now, Gene has filed a trademark application for “his” hand gesture, saying that he first used it in the entertainment domain on November 14, 1974. Yes, he remembers the first date he flashed it to the crowd.
The problem is, this “gesture” is actually the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for “I Love You”. Then there is the 1966 single sleeve for the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine that shows John Lennon using the gesture. The last we knew, 1966 was before 1974.
To be fair, Simmons is only trying to trademark the gesture for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist”, so the deaf are probably safe from having to pay a usage fee but what happens when some rocker throws the devil horns and, by accident, has his thumb partially out. Will Simmons bring a court case looking for royalties?
There have been a lot of poorly thought out trademark applications over the years, but this one may be a candidate for the bad trademark hall of fame.