Webb Report: Gene Simmons’ trademark bid a thumb away from ‘Hook ’em’

Also: Is Bigfoot traipsing around Round Rock?


Watch that thumb placement carefully, Longhorn nation. If Gene Simmons’ plan succeeds, you might be infringing on his trademark.

The Kiss frontman filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that seeks to trademark the “rock on” hand gesture. Simmons’ application claims that the sign — which “consists of a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular” — was first used in commerce Nov. 14, 1974. The intended use of the gesture is for live performances and personal appearances by a musical artist, according to the application, which one would assume refers to Simmons himself.

According to the trademark office’s website, the application is currently awaiting review and will be assigned to an examining attorney approximately three months from the filing date.

So, we know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t that look kind of like the “Hook ’em, Horns” hand sign? Yes and no. The discerning Longhorn, of course, will note that the “Hook ’em” sign differs from Simmons’ “rock on” in thumb placement. Whereas Dr. Love’s trademark application specifically mentions a perpendicular thumb, the proper expression of burnt orange pride includes a thumb folded over the palm, tucked on top of the folded middle and ring fingers.

RELATED: A brief history of University of Texas icons

Even if Simmons’ application is successful, it’s hard to imagine any successful challenges that the “Hook ’em” sign infringes upon the international sign for rock. For one thing, UT’s pride symbol definitely predates the “rock on” hand sign — it was invented in 1955. For another, the university famously protects its trademarks, and according to the Office of Brand, Trademarks and Licensing, the hand symbol definitely falls under that umbrella.

Does the Demon stand a chance of claiming his hand sign? As the Washington Post points out, proving that a desired trademark is both distinct and likely to be confused in the marketplace might be a challenge. That 1974 date cited by Simmons as the symbol’s origin coincides with Kiss’s tour in support of the band’s debut record, but similar gestures have long existed in the world. They’ve popped up everywhere from Beatles’ album covers to the hands of superstitious Italians. Of course, it also means “I love you” in American Sign Language.

If UT can trademark its most famous finger-flash, though, maybe Simmons will rock all the way to the bank.

The rock’s round, the foot’s big

An unknown creature might be exploring parks in Round Rock, according to city officials. Photos posted to the Round Rock Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page reveal some rather large, semi-human footprints — which means Bigfoot may be, well, afoot in Williamson County.

“Our Park Ranger surveillance has captured strange footprints at various parks & trails in the area,” the post reads.

According to time and location stamps on the photos, the three images were captured at Freeman Park, Old Settlers Park and Brushy Creek Trail between June 8-10. Two of the images simply look like footprints, but a third photo, which also features a person’s foot for scale, shows the muddy footprints are quite large.

It’s not the first time a perhaps mythical, perhaps real creature has been spotted in Central Texas. In 2012, a Cedar Park resident spotted a chupacabra — or it could have just been a rather mangy-looking coyote. And in 2015, a Rockdale resident found an animal carcass by a creek on his land and thought it could have been a chupacabra.

Our very own Mike Parker, editor of the Pflugerville Pflag and Round Rock Leader community newspapers, thinks the creature may be the “Hairy Man,” a local legend which dates back to Round Rock’s pioneer days and which has inspired a local 5K and Hairy Man contest.

We’re not saying it’s definitely Bigfoot, because as one Facebook commenter said, if there are cameras at the parks to capture these images, then why aren’t there photos of the Sasquatch himself? But if you’re hiking in any Round Rock parks this summer, you should probably keep an eye out for something large and hairy.

— Katey Psencik, American-Statesman staff

Rough night at the movies

By now, if you’re an Alamo Drafthouse patron, you know the deal: Don’t talk. Don’t text. Don’t arrive late. Now, the stars of the new comedy “Rough Night” want to add a new command to the Drafthouse rulebook: If you do see someone talking or texting, throw them your best mean mug or stink-eye.

To promote the bachelorette party flick, “Broad City” star Ilana Glazer and and “Workaholics” star Jillian Bell were selected to make the latest “Don’t Talk, Don’t Text” PSA, which is available to watch online, too. And they came with some patented “rough looks” that you can employ if someone is talking.

“If the person next to you is talking or texting, don’t tell them to shut their piehole,” Glazer says in the video.

“And don’t text them to stop texting, because then you become the problem you’re trying to solve,” Bell adds.

Instead, what you should do is throw that person a “rough look,” which basically means use your best shocked and indignant face, preferably with an eye roll and a gasp.

As Bell puts it, “Be the nasty look you want to see in the world.”

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

Love and basketball on the brain

After winning his first NBA championship last week, Texas Longhorn alum Kevin Durant was asked pointedly if he had a “final message for Rihanna.” The pair got people talking on the internet recently, after Durant appeared to stare Rihanna down during the first game of the finals. The singer reportedly yelled “brick” from the sidelines while Durant shot a free throw.

Durant, MVP trophy in hand, stared into the USA Today Sports camera and said, “I ain’t got to say nothing.” And, after giving it a few seconds, said, “Love you girl, but I got to do it. Gots to do it! You understand me?’’ Durant was then asked if Rihanna’s attendance was a highlight, to which he responded, “Oh, my gosh. More than that. More than that.”

Although Durant has long tweet-confessed his love for the singer, Rihanna’s basketball allegiance has famously forever laid with LeBron James.

Hey, at least you’ve still got that trophy, KD.

—Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff



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