Can I Trademark a Hand Gesture?
Last Updated: 3/15/2018
Looking to trademark a hand gesture? This one is tricky. You may be able to trademark the image of a hand gesture, but likely not the gesture itself.
Generally speaking, you cannot trademark a hand gesture, as it does not fit the Trademark Office’s criteria for trademarkable material. A trademark refers specifically to the name, logo, or slogan associated with the branding of goods and services. A hand gesture is difficult to protect, because anyone can perform it and it is not the sort of thing that can be used to differentiate competitors in the marketplace.
However, if you create a logo for your company that features an image of a hand gesture, and if you use that logo to promote your products or services, you could then trademark the logo that includes the image of a hand gesture.
A Famous Attempt
Recently, Gene Simmons attempted to trademark the “Devil’s horns” hand gesture, but withdrew the filing after just a few weeks. This attempt drew a torrent of criticism.
When asked about the backlash, Simmons responded “People got very upset — unqualified, no experience, no resume — those are the people in the peanut gallery. And so people get upset about something when they don’t know the facts. Actually, you can trademark anything. And if nobody objects, I can own every breath of air you take.” (Source)
It seems unlikely the Simmons would have gotten this mark approved, even if it did originate with him as he claims. But, on that front, many credit this hand gesture to Ronnie James Dio.
More Common Trademark Questions
- Can you trademark social media usernames?
- Can you trademark a hashtag?
- Can you trademark a name for free?
- Can you trademark common words or phrases?
The Trademark Process
If you would like to discuss the trademarking options available to you, or are curious about using a specific hand gesture to brand your products or services, contact us today for a more in-depth evaluation and explanation. Or, you can start your trademark application online.