Ohio State University applies to trademark the word ‘the’

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A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) application from the Ohio State University filed last week seeks to trademark the word “the.”

Application No. 88571984, as viewed by The Hill, seeks to trademark the word primarily for use on branded apparel. 

According to Ohio State, the state legislation renaming the university in 1878 included the word “the” in the name of the school, and fans now regularly emphasize the first word when referring to “The Ohio State University.” 

{mosads}Trademark lawyer Josh Gerben, who first noticed the application, said in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday that the application “has issues right out of the gate,” predicting it would likely be rejected by the USPTO.

“In order for a trademark to be registered for a brand of clothing, the trademark must be used in a trademark fashion. In other words, it has to be used on tagging or labeling for the products. In this case, just putting the word ‘the’ on the front of a hat or on the front of a shirt is not sufficient trademark use,” he added.

“The” trended on Twitter Wednesday in the aftermath of Gerben’s discovery.

In a statement to The Hill, the university said the trademark “would only would apply for usage of ‘The’ in ways that clearly signify association with Ohio State and its brand, like for example a scarlet and grey T-shirt with ‘The’ on the front.” 

“Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks because these assets hold significant value, which benefits our students and faculty and the broader community by supporting our core academic mission of teaching and research,” the university added, noting that it has trademarked the word “Ohio” for the same purposes.

—Updated at 3:57 p.m.

Tags Ohio ohio state university The trademark USTO
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