Gene Simmons Attempts to Trademark Iconic Hand SymbolJune 21, 2017

Kiss lead singer, Gene Simmons, recently filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to register the famous rock ‘n’ roll “horns” hand gesture as a trademark. Simmons filed the application June 9th to register “a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular” as a trademark for “live performances and personal appearances by a musical artist.” According to the application, Simmons first used the hand gesture in commerce November 14, 1974.

A copy of the image submitted with the application is below:

Prior to the application being registered the USPTO would consider the likelihood of confusion and whether the mark is too generic to be associated with Simmons. It is likely that Simmons will run into multiple obstacles prior to a registration being issued. Among them could be that the hand gesture is the American Sign Language gesture for “I love you”, other musicians have used similar gestures during live performances for decades, and John Lennon displayed the same hand gesture on the album cover of The Beatles’ 1966 single Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby.

However, if the USPTO allows the hand gesture to be registered, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. The University of Texas holds multiple registrations on its similar “Hook ‘em Horns” symbol and it has has been reported that former professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page sued Jay-Z and electronic music duo 3OH!3 alleging trademark infringement of his “Diamond Cutter hand gesture.”

Brandon W. Clark is the Chair of the Copyright, Entertainment & Media Law Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information please visit or contact Brandon directly via email at

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