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Gene Simmons Reportedly Withdraws Application to Trademark Devil Horns Hand Gesture

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Gene Simmons has apparently thought better of his widely ridiculed efforts to trademark the universally recognized hand gesture for rocking out.

As previously reported, Simmons recently explored the possibility of registering the so-called “devil horns” gesture commonly made by countless rock stars over the past several decades, filing paperwork that claimed he’d first made it in 1974. Given its widespread usage, its close identification with Ronnie James Dio and the fact that it holds a variety of meanings in different cultural and/or linguistic contexts, the Kiss co-founder’s efforts to secure any type of ownership over the hand sign prompted immediate public scorn.

Dio’s widow Wendy was among the chorus of disapproval, calling the idea of the trademark “disgusting,” arguing Simmons had “made a complete fool of himself,” and insisting, “It belongs to everyone; it doesn’t belong to anyone. … It’s a public domain; it shouldn’t be trademarked.” Former Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx reacted to the news by joking that he was thinking about trademarking the raised middle finger.

Now, for whatever reason, Simmons has reportedly withdrawn his petition. Forbes says the application has been “expressly abandoned,” and although no public comment or reason for the change was provided, the report notes that “Hand gestures in and of themselves cannot function as trademarks. And, even if they could, there would be no practical way to enforce the trademark against others.”

Given how successful Simmons has been in terms of leveraging various aspects of his brand and public persona into commercial ventures, it’s somewhat surprising that he’d invest in an idea that seemed like such an obvious mistake — but even without the devil horns in his stable of intellectual property, he still has plenty of other revenue streams to fall back on. Let us all raise a pair of devil horns in relieved solidarity.

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