Gesture mark: Gesture can be a trademark

Bolt must have thought he could still earn a few dollars after his retirement with this gesture, when he applied for trademark protection in the US in August 2022 for this pose for all kinds of goods, including sunglasses and clothing. A gesture or pose as a trademark: why not? Trademarks are distinctive signs, and just like a word or a logo, a gesture or an pose can also be distinctive.

gesture mark Usain Bolt
Right: US registration 97552042 Usain Bolt pose (gesture mark)


Sports and entertainment

Bolt is certainly not the first celebrity to try to monopolize his signature gesture or pose as a trademark. In sports and entertainment, this type of trademark registration occurs more often. It’s not always a smooth process, though.

Gesture mark Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons with the devil’s horn – US registration 87482739 Gene Simmons


Gene Simmons

In 2017, Gene Simmons, bass player in the rock band Kiss, registered the devil’s horn hand gesture as a trademark in the US. Simmons has used this gesture since 1974 at Kiss gigs. The registration generated a storm of criticism, especially because other famous people, like John Lennon and Spiderman, also used the devil’s horn. As a result, Simmons decided to withdraw his application.

Spiderman and John Lennon also make the devil’s horn gesture


Gesture mark Jay-Z

When Rapper Jay-Z started using the diamond gesture to promote a new album in 2007, he immediately got into a fight with wrestler Diamond Dallas Page. The wrestler profiled himself in the ring for years with his diamond pose and registered the gesture as a trademark. Jay-Z quickly backed down and bought him out for an undisclosed amount. Years later, in 2018, Jay-Z had his ‘diamond’ gesture registered as a trademark.

Gesture marks
Left the diamond-registration of Jay-Z (2018), right the registration of Diamond Dallas Page (2003).

Bas Kist