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Gene Simmons - Metal Horns Trademark

A Sneak Peek...

And this time ... about the rock star trying to write a "trademark" on "Devil Horns" .... an act of fool or a marketing ploy?

(Photo: Broadimage)

Today in 2017 Gene Simmons of the Kiss filed a bizarre application to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office. He sought to register the "Devil Horns" or "Metal Horns" mark as a trademark belonging to him.

According to Simmons, he was the first to use the "devil's horns" symbol and this first happened on November 14, 1974. In these circumstances, Simmons claimed that it should be determined that it was a trademark belonging to him.

Simmons' request was received with astonishment by various musicians and critics.

First, Simmons' symbol included the use of three fingers instead of two (see photo) with the thumb also raised up along with the finger and little finger. This symbol is used in American sign language to say "I love you".

Second, the use of this symbol was made by musicians and others long before Simmons claims to have first used it. For example, John Lennon used the symbol on the cover of the single "Yellow Submarine" and on the cover of the album "Yellow Submarine" which was released back in 1968 (see below).

Third, the use of this mark was not made for commercial reasons but in an attempt to excite and thrill the audience and therefore it is doubtful whether it can at all be determined that it is a "trademark" as defined by law.

Fourth, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Simmons' application was filed with a delay of over forty years during which many cultural figures made use of the symbol, so this should be interpreted as Simmons' waiver of the right.

Fifth, the symbol of the devil's horns common among metalheads and rock fans uses only two fingers. The popularity of this icon is attributed to singer Ronnie James Dio who tried to capture the hearts of "Black Sabbath" fans after replacing singer Ozzy Osbourne. Dio needed his own hallmark to excite the audience. Anyone who has seen Sabbath's shows with Ozzy from the 1970s knows that Ozzy regularly used to use the V mark on his fingers. Ronnie needed his own mark but he could not look like his predecessor so he chose the mark his Italian grandmother used to use to get rid of the "evil eye" - the horn mark known today as "metal horns". The "metal horns" symbol soon became the hallmark of Dio. The symbol's popularity grew and it became a mark associated with metal and rock music.

(Photo: Chiaki Nozu)

In March 2021, Geezer Butler - bassist of "Black Sabbath" - added interesting details by saying that he used to use the symbol back in 1971. Geezer also provided a picture proving his words. He claims that although he used it before, Dio has adopted the mark and he will always be identified with it. Geezer noted that he used to signal to the audience before a quick piece of music in the song during live shows. Dio asked him what this mark he was doing, but nevertheless, Geezer praised Dio and said that since he was the one who adopted and became famous for it, he ask no credit no matter what.


And if we go back to Simmons for a moment, then it is possible that one or more of the reasons listed above led Gene Simmons to withdraw his application less than two weeks after it was filed.

An act of fool or a marketing ploy? It is for you to judge ...

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