Less than two weeks after KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons filed an application for a trademark on the so-called “devil’s horns” hand gesture, Simmons expressly abandoned the application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on June 20.
In his original request filed on June 9, Simmons submitted a U.S. trademark application seeking to register the devil’s horn hand gesture consisting “of a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular” as a trademark for “Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.” The application listed the date of first use as November 14, 1974, and the specimen of use was a photograph of Simmons flashing the hand gesture alongside Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.
Metalhead fans and other rockers blasted Simmons for the trademark attempt. Vinnie Appice said recently on an appearance on the “Ouch You’re on My Hair” podcast, “Ronnie’s hand gesture thing is an old Italian thing; it’s called the maloik. And his grandmother showed him that and used to do that, and so did the elders in my family too. And that’s to put… one way’s to put horns on people, and the other way is to wish ’em good luck. So Gene couldn’t have invented it, because it’s an old Italian thing. And if Ronnie was alive, man, he’d be pissed off. Oh, yeah!”
Trademark attorney Michael Cohen with Cohen IP Law Group in Beverly Hills, who deals with trademark, patent and copyright infringement cases, told the Los Angeles Times that it would have been very difficult for Simmons’s application to be approved because the gesture has become “genericized.”