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Nikki Sixx and Wendy Dio Mock Gene Simmons’ Attempt to Trademark Devil-Horn Gesture

Ethan Miller  / Jason Merritt / Ben Gabbe, Getty Images
Ethan Miller / Jason Merritt / Ben Gabbe, Getty Images

Gene Simmons has a fight on his hands after attempting to trademark the devil-horn hand gesture.

Nikki Sixx took to Twitter, joking that he was “thinking of trademarking” the middle finger. (He used the popular bird-flipping emoji to complete the tweet.) Simmons is also getting blasted by the widow of a music legend and even a university president.

In an official filing, the Kiss bassist said he first employed the horn-hand symbol on Nov. 14, 1974, during the Hotter Than Hell era. Research reveals this to be an age-old gesture, however. Used for centuries across various cultures, it also means “I love you” in sign language.

But most rock fans associate the devil horn with a similar gesture made by Ronnie James Dio, who popularized it beginning in the late ’70s. Simmons’ move drew a swift rebuke from Dio’s widow, Wendy. “To try to make money off of something like this is disgusting,” she told the Wrap. “It belongs to everyone; it doesn’t belong to anyone. … It’s a public domain; it shouldn’t be trademarked.”

Known for Kiss’ association with a broad, sometimes-outlandish array of merchandising, Simmons filed the application last week with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “The mark consists of a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular,” according to the application, which also includes a sketch of the finger placement and a photo of Simmons using it.

Simmons goes on to say he believes that “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.”

Inventing stuff is cool.

A post shared by Brian Walsby (@brianwalsby) on

Brian Walsby, who’s played with bands that featured members of Superchunk and Corrosion of Conformity, also created a humorous drawing for Instagram that lampoons Simmons’ trademark attempt. A former contributor to Maximum Rock and Roll, he’s been a member of the Melvins‘ touring crew for the past eight years.

The president of the University of Texas, where fans have used a variant on this gesture in support of their school for decades, also weighed in.

“It’s laughable, I think, quite honestly,” Wendy Dio added. “I think [Simmons] has made a complete fool of himself. It’s disgusting. What does he want?”

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