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Gene Simmons Seeks to Register Trademark on Iconic Rock Hand Gesture

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 6/14/2017 Eriq Gardner
Gene Simmons attends the LA premiere of "Under The Gun" at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Beverly Hills. © Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Gene Simmons attends the LA premiere of "Under The Gun" at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Beverly Hills.

Thumb up or thumb down?

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons is awaiting the signal from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office after he filed an application on Friday for a trademark on a hand gesture. Rock fans are probably familiar with the sight. Here's the drawing that's included in the application:

© Provided by The Hollywood Reporter

According to Simmons, this hand gesture was first used in commerce on Nov. 14, 1974. That appears to correspond with Kiss' "Hotter Than Hell" tour.

Speaking of hell, the hand gesture appears quite similar to what's known as the "Sign of the horns," a devil signal that according to an entertaining entry from Wikipedia, dates use back to the 5th Century BC founder of Buddhism.

Simmons is claiming the hand gesture mark for "entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist."

Before the Trademark Office allows this hand gesture to be registered - it perhaps wouldn't be unprecedented - an examiner would consider the likelihood of confusion and possibly, whether it's too generic to be associated with Simmons. Here, for example, is the album cover for the Beatles' 1966 single, "Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby":

On the road to registration, Simmons might have other obstacles besides John Lennon. Among them could be how in certain Mediterranean cultures, the horns - or "rock on" - gesture is, in the words of The New York Post, "made to a man to imply that his wife is cheating on him." Whether or not that matters is possibly impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming ruling in Tam v. Lee.

An even bigger question is the extent to which Simmons could enforce trademark rights even if his registration is accepted.

Former professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page has tried. Some reported that he had sued Jay Z over the "Roc-A-Fella Hand Gesture," alleging it was a trademark infringement of his "Diamond Cutter hand gesture," although we couldn't locate any complaint. However, we did find a lawsuit filed by Page in 2010 against the American electronic music duo, 3OH13. Here was the complaint file in court. According to records from the Trademark Office, the case settled.

No matter what happens for Simmons, we guarantee nobody will ever be able to trademark a handshake. 

Related slideshow: Musicians who are 65-plus and still rocking (via Photo Services)  65+ and still rockin'


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