Gene Simmons, Harley-Davidson And Other Weird Trademark Cases

Gene Simmons, Harley-Davidson And Other Weird Trademark Cases

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by: Mark Fritz, Benzinga Staff Writer


KISS frontman Gene Simmons wants to trademark a hand gesture long associated with 1970s arena rock as well as Marvel Comics’ “Spider-Man,” joining a long line of dubious attempts by people to own nebulous things.

Simmons trademark application refers to a hand gesture — the two middle fingers pressed to the palm — that he claimed to have invented at least as early as Nov. 14, 1974. It seeks to make Simmons the owner of the gesture for “Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.”

Even though Spider-Man character was the subject of a short-lived Broadway musical in 2010, the character has used the gesture to turn on his web-shooters since the early 1960s.

It isn’t known if Simmons’ trademark is in any way is related to the Walt Disney Co’s DIS “Spider-Man: Homecoming” live-action movie coming out on July 7. Or just the fact that the “horns” hand gesture has long been associated with hard rock, most notably the late Ronnie James Dio of Black Sabbath.

Simmons’ lawyer, Peter J. Vranum, did not respond to a request for comment.


Other Odd Trademark Attempts

Seeking to trademark something as amorphous as a hand gesture isn't new.

In 1994, Harley-Davidson Inc HOG tried to trademark its distinctive “potato-potato” exhaust sound after competitors with similar-looking motorcycles began making inroads into the U.S. cruiser market. After six years of litigation, it finally abandoned the effort.

In 2008, after going 18-0 en route to the Super Bowl, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sought to trademark “19-0.” The underdog New York Giants upset the Patsies in the big game, however. Nevertheless, Kraft continued with the effort and succeeded in obtaining the trademark this year, a Pyrrhic victory at best.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT tried to trademark the yellow “Smiley Face” in 2006, even though it had been around since the 1970s. The application was denied.

In 2015, Time Warner Inc TWX trademarked the nonsense term “Bazinga!,” an exclamation used by a character in the television show “The Big Bang Theory.”


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