Gene Simmons has dismissed criticism of his attempt to trademark the so-called "devil's horns" hand gesture as the usual griping from the online peanut gallery.
The KISS bassist/vocalist withdrew his application to trademark the symbol in late June — less than two weeks after filing with the federal copyright office.
Most music fans slammed Simmons for the trademark request, saying the symbol has become ubiquitous and means different things to different people.
Asked by Canada's Toronto Sun if he is bothered by the negative feedback he got for trying to trademark the "metal horns" or "rock on" hand sign, Simmons replied: "People got very upset — unqualified, no experience, no resume — those are the people in the peanut gallery. And so people get upset about something when they don't know the facts. Actually, you can trademark anything. And if nobody objects, I can own every breath of air you take."
In his original request, which was filed on June 9, Simmons described the sign as consisting "of a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular." He paid $275, seeking to use the hand signal symbol for "Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist."
Gene claimed the gesture was first used in commerce on November 14, 1974, which corresponded to KISS's "Hotter Than Hell" tour. He wrote in his signed declaration that he believed "no other person, firm, corporation or association has the right to use said mark in commerce, either in the identical form or in such near resemblance."
It's unclear why Simmons suddenly withdrew his application to trademark the gesture but it's unlikely he would have succeeded anyway.
Copyright lawyer Ronald Abrams told Forbes that such hand gestures can't be trademarked unless they are part of a logo. Trademark attorney Michael Cohen with Cohen IP Law Group in Beverly Hills, who deals with trademark, patent and copyright infringement cases, concurred, telling the Los Angeles Times that it would have been very difficult for Simmons's application to be approved because the gesture has become "genericized."
Simmons's version of the gesture is actually "I love you" in American Sign Language, with the thumb extended, rather than the thumb holding two middle fingers close to the palm.
Ronnie James Dio's widow Wendy also criticized Simmons for attempting to trademark the hand sign. She told TheWrap: "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."
Photo credit: Mark Weiss