Why Gene Simmons’ attempt at patenting his hand gesture wouldn’t have worked

Daniel Bukszpan | Music & Musicians

Earlier this month, legendary KISS bassist and singer Gene Simmons submitted a trademark application that sought to register a familiar sight at rock concerts. The business-savvy rocker wanted to corner the market on the “devil horns” hand gesture, a fixture among heavy metal audiences for decades.

Simmons’ attempt was met by criticism from throughout the music world, and widespread derision in the media. The controversy proved short-lived, as Simmons this week abandoned his quest with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Simmons did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Still, the rocker’s attempt raised an interesting question about whether he–or anyone else for that matter–could actually prevail in such a quest to make money from a hand gesture. In the wake of Simmons’ aborted effort, CNBC canvased a few experts to get their take.

“It is very highly unlikely that the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who examines and registers trademarks, would issue one for Mr. Simmons,” said John Conway, a trademark and business law attorney and CEO of the Astonish media group.

“Mr. Simmons would have to somehow demonstrate the uniqueness or special meaning… that consumers would automatically connect that hand signal to Mr. Simmons as an artist,” he added. Conway also pointed out that the gesture is used in sign language, and is similar to the one used by Spider-Man to spin a web—which dates back to at least the 1960’s.

The web-slinging teen from Queens is far from the only one.

“John Lennon used it at least as early as 1969 on the cover of the Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ album,” Conway added. “It has been used by many other artists and fans in the heavy metal genre for decades. The origins of the hand sign go back to medieval Italian hand signs to ward off curses.”

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Gene Simmons changes his mind about hand gesture trademark


Rocker Gene Simmons has abandoned his application to trademark his signature “rock on” hand gesture.

The KISS frontman filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier in June to trademark the use of his “devil horns” hand gesture for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.”

In the application, he claimed he was the first to use it in 1974, and he was subsequently mocked by members of the rock world, with many fans pointing out the symbol pre-dates the bass player.

The rocker has now withdrawn his bid, with the status on application’s page now reading, “DEAD/APPLICATION/Withdrawn/Abandoned… The owner of the trademark application withdrew (e.g. abandoned) the application and the application is no longer active.”

The listing shows the case was withdrawn on Tuesday, after the applicant “filed an express abandonment.”

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Peter Criss Final USA Show 6/17/2017 Cutting Room NYC

John DeNobile

Peter Criscuola (Peter Criss)  Original Founding Member of the rock group KISS said  goodbye to fans, friends and  contemporaries in his final US Concert at the Cutting Room in NYC on June 17, 2017.

AS I watched Peter in the wings awaiting his introduction with his wife  Gigi Criss by his side. I couldn’t help feel his anticipation to deliver a great setlist for his  300 + fans, friends and family.

Peter Walked out to sing 1978  Solo Album tune  “I Can’t Stop the Rain” to  a cheering crowd! He settled into what would  be  a total of 12  Criss/ Kiss Songs, support by  the youthful Australian band Sisters Doll who Peter had  used for his final appearance in Australia in May. Other players  included Alex Salzman & Erik Rudic from the Asbury Park Band “ Cold Seas” and a String and Horn section which fit Criss’s R&B Big Band vocals and rockin’ grooved percussion.

Audience notables  were  Carmine Appice( Vanilla Fudge), Richie Scarlett( Ace Frehley’s Rythmn Guitarist)  Eddie Trunk(Sirius, That Metal Show), Paul Schaffer( Late Night w/David Letterman)as well Peter’s “NJ Beauty Ball Girls” & Dr. Alex Swistel (Peter is  a male breast cancer survivor)  and  has championed early detection for all.

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Wendy Dio slams Gene Simmons for devil horns claim

Scott Monro | Team Rock

You can’t make this shit up…

Ronnie James Dio’s widow Wendy has slammed Gene Simmons for attempting to trademark the famous devil horns hand sign which is used by rock and metal fans all over the world.

It was revealed earlier this week that the Kiss bassist and vocalist had filed an application at the US Patent and Trademark Office to register a gesture “with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular.”

The late Ronnie James Dio is widely credited with popularising a different version devil horns sign which he learned from his grandmother as a way to ward off evil – and when asked what she thinks of Simmons’ plan, Wendy says it’s “disgusting.”

She tells The Wrap: “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.”

Wendy compares Simmons’ plan to trying to trademark the peace sign and adds: “It’s laughable, I think, quite honestly. I think he’s made a complete fool of himself.”

The cover of Coven’s 1969 album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls also featured members of the band making a similar hand gesture – and vocalist Esther “Jinx” Dawson has also called out the Kiss star.

She says: “I did the sign of the horns when Coven started in late 1967. I never trademarked my sign because it was meant for all to do, although it is legally ‘grandfathered in’ to me for use in music by all the history.

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Someone Made an EDM Track Out of Paul Stanley’s Stage Banter — and It’s Glorious

Damian Fanelli | Guitar World

EDM (electronic dance music) duo Snaked recently released a new track titled “Paul Stanley.”

The only “vocals” included on the EDM track are various bits of stage banter by Paul Stanley of Kiss. “Paul Stanley”—which was produced by New Jersey-based DJ Depressed Teenager—perfectly merges the age-old experience of a Kiss concert with the new sound of EDM, complete with some appropriately larger-than-life guitar leads from video game composer Hugh Myrone.


Gene Simmons wants to trademark “devil horns” hand gesture

Robyn Beck – CBS News

KISS front-man Gene Simmons is looking to claim the “devil horns” hand gesture for his own.

Simmons filed an application Friday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a trademark on the hand gesture he regularly uses during concerts and public appearances — thumb, index and pinky fingers extended, with the middle and ring fingers folded down.

According to Simmons, this hand gesture was first used in commerce — by him — on Nov. 14, 1974. He is claiming the hand gesture should be trademarked for “entertainment, namely live performances by a musical artist [and] personal appearances by a musical artist.”

While Simmons’ application didn’t define the meaning of the gesture, it is often referred to as “devil horns,” the “sign of the devil” or simply “rock on.” It is also the American Sing Language symbol for “I love you.”


Kiss rock ‘n’ rolled all night to shock their crazy fans

Paul Davies | Express

Pantomime season started early, as metal gods Kiss made their grand entrance at the O2 London Arena.

Self-parody being a market that Kiss maximised and monetised a long time ago, the visuals are what most came to see.

Their stage production of hydraulics, zip wires and pyrotechnics would give Alton Towers a run for its money.

With a barrage of bangs and a thud, thud, thud of Eric Singer’s drums, all hell broke loose as the band kicked into opening song Deuce.Banks of multi-coloured lights, spelling the Kiss name, lit up the stage. This was rock ‘n’ roll Las Vegas style.

The band definitely lived up to their motto: ‘you wanted the best, you got the best!’

Gene SimmonsPA

Banks of multi-coloured lights, spelling the Kiss name, lit up the stage

As the last notes of hit Shout It Out Loud faded, a minute’s silence was observed for the victims of the Manchester Arena bomb.Kiss had to cancel their Manchester show due to the tragedy.

Although his voice was noticeably croaky, the glittering charm of lead singer Paul Stanley always shines through.

Stanley likes to ask questions of a bawdy nature between songs.

None more so than, ‘how many girls like to be licked, how many boys like to be licked?’ – the boys cheered the loudest – before rocking out to a delirious Lick it Up. The audience shouting along to the chorus.

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