Devil horns, the American Sign Language gesture for “I love you,” or Gene Simmons’ personal creation?
That will be for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to decide, because the Kiss frontman just filed an application for trademark ownership of his iconic hand gesture.
According to the application Simmons filed Friday, the gesture was first used commercially on Nov. 14, 1974, which was during Kiss’ Hotter than Hell Tour.
Simmons wants trademarked use of the gesture for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by that artist.”
Simmons even included a picture of the gesture with his application, just to make sure he was extra clear:
One glaring question though — is the gesture really his?!
The gesture Simmons is attempting to trademark bears a striking resemblance to the sign of the horns, albeit with a different thumb position.
However, that hand shape is pretty much owned by Black Sabbath’s Ronnie James Dio, who is widely credited with introducing it to popular culture. And of course the sign of the horns has a long history already. It’s associated with the devil and can be traced back centuries across various cultures to a time long before 1974.
Simmons’ gesture also looks positively identical to the ASL gesture for “I Love You,” which might be the biggest hurdle his legal team has to clear.
Additionally, it has been pointed out that Simmons’ gesture is awfully similar to Spiderman’s “thwip” hand gesture, turned upside down.
Even if he can prove “his” gesture is unique, there is evidence he was not the first to use it. John Lennon has been photographed making a very similar shape with his hand as early as 1966.
A larger question remains of how Simmons would enforce his trademarked ownership too. There is some legal precedent for this; former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page sued rapper Jay-Z over the “diamond cutter” gesture in 2005, which Page claimed Jay-Z had stolen from him.
Would Simmons really go around suing anyone who attempted to profit from “his” sign? Stranger things have happened.