KISS star Gene Simmons wants to trademark 'devil horns'

Nice try, say savvy internet observers. They point out the gesture's use in American Sign Language, and by Buddha, John Lennon and Spider-Man.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

You've seen, and maybe made, the "devil horns" or "rock on" gesture at concerts and in photos. Now KISS co-founder Gene Simmons says he invented it in 1974, and wants to trademark it.

The Hollywood Reporter points out that Simmons' application can be read online, and notes that "the mark consists of a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular."

The illustration of the mark included with the application looks an awful lot like the American Sign Language sign for "I love you."


Gene Simmons' trademark application says the gesture shown here was first used "in commerce" on Nov. 14, 1974.

US Patent and Trademark Office

It's already been turned into a popular emoji that Simmons has been known to use.

Whatever happens with the trademark application, Simmons seems to have stepped into a web of confusion, as many say the gesture he makes looks more like a certain Spider-Man maneuver.

Others point out that everyone from John Lennon to Ronnie James Dio to Geezer Butler to Buddha have made the gesture. Some Texas Longhorns fans claim it, too, though the thumb position on their "Hook 'em Horns" gesture, dating to 1955, is different.


John Lennon making the gesture on the Beatles' single, "Yellow Submarine"/"Eleanor Rigby," that came out in 1966.


Simmons' filing says he wants to trademark the gesture for "entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist." So have no fear, whatever happens, you will still be able to walk around your house making devil horns at your dog.

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