Stand back, Gene Simmons: When it comes to claiming rights for the “horns” hand gesture, you might be the last in line.
Following news that KISS frontman Gene Simmons is attempting to trademark the “horns” hand gesture — a staple at rock concerts for decades — TheWrap spoke to Wendy Dio, widow of deceased singer Ronnie James Dio, who’s widely credited with popularizing the hand gesture.
Dio’s assessment of Simmons’ trademark bid? It’s “disgusting.”
“To try to make money off of something like this is disgusting,” Dio told TheWrap. “It belongs to everyone; it doesn’t belong to anyone. … It’s a public domain; it shouldn’t be trademarked.”
Dio was quick to note that her husband — who fronted groups including Black Sabbath and Rainbow — shouldn’t be credited with the gesture either. As she noted, the singer, who died in 2010, adopted the hand gesture from an old Italian sign that he picked up from his grandmother, which is used to either ward off evil or give the evil eye, depending on how it’s employed.
Dio also noted that the rock band Coven used the hand gesture, as displayed on the cover of the group’s 1969 debut album, while the cartoon version of John Lennon flashes a similar sign on the cover of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” album, released in 1969.
Dio characterized Simmons’ effort to trademark the hand gesture as “a joke,” and noted, “It’s just crazy.”
“It’s laughable, I think, quite honestly,” Dio said, likening Simmons’ trademark bid to trying to trademark the bird or the peace sign. “I think he’s made a complete fool of himself.”
“It’s disgusting; what does he want?” Dio added.
Simmons filed his application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 9, describing the “horns” symbol as “a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular.”
In the application, Simmons claimed to have first used the gesture “At least as early as 11/14/1974,” and said it has been used for “Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist, personal appearances by a musical artist.”