Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book of the Day: As Gene Simmons always says, "If someone likes you, they'll buy what you're selling, whether or not they need it." So buy this book.

This week has seen a rare setback for rock star Gene Simmons, Ronald Abrams reports in Forbes:

Earlier this month, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons submitted a use-based U.S. trademark application seeking to register the devil’s horn hand gesture as a trademark for “Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.” The application listed the date of first use as November 14, 1974, and the specimen of use was a photograph of Simmons flashing the hand gesture alongside Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.

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Mr. Simmons appears to have sought registration of the hand gesture itself, rather than an image or depiction of the gesture, describing the mark in the application as “a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular.”

Although images or stylized drawings of hand gestures can function and be registered as trademarks either by themselves or as part of a design mark, hand gestures in and of themselves cannot function as trademarks. And, even if they could, there would be no practical way to enforce the trademark against others (often referred to as “policing the mark”). Compounding the non-registerability of the “devil horn” hand gesture is the fact that the gesture means “I love you” in sign language.

Now, less than two weeks later, Mr. Simmons has apparently reconsidered whether he might have valid trademark rights to the hand gesture, as he expressly abandoned the application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is also noted that his application drew a fair amount of criticism from fellow musicians and others who saw the application as a shameless overreach by Simmons. Simmons, one of the most successful musician-entrepreneurs in history, owns a stable of other trademark registrations through his Gene Simmons Company. Nice try, Gene.

In its 44 years as a band, Kiss’ ongoing onslaught of merchandise has included everything from caskets to condoms, but band bassist and co-founder Gene Simmons’ June 9 attempt to trademark rock and roll’s iconic “metal horns” hand gesture is a bridge too far for musicians and fans who believe the late singer Ronnie James Dio — among others — can lay claim to the ubiquitous gesture...

Carl Canedy, drummer of The Rods, told Variety, “Gene is looking to trademark a three-fingered symbol. The fans I’ve spoken to seem to be responding with a one-fingered salute.”

Even the President of the University of Texas got into it with Simmons:

But then, as his 2001 memoir makes clear, the 67-year-old singer has never lacked for chutzpah:

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Simmons, Gene, Kiss and Make-Up (Crown Publishers, 1st ed. 1st printing, 2001). ISBN 0-609-60855-X. The story of a nice Jewish boy from Haifa with a really, really long tongue “I feel a sense of accomplishment from our merchandizing deals,” he concludes). Octavo, Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket, fine condition, 275 pp. HBB price: $75 obo.

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