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Federal regulators reject Ohio State University bid to trademark use of ‘the’

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Ohio State University’s request to formally add “the” to its name was rejected by federal regulators on Wednesday, NBC News reports

The school filed for the trademark with the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office last month to add the three letters on its branded apparel. 

Tara L. Bhupathi, the examining attorney who handled the case, said the request was refused “because the applied-for mark as used on the specimen of record is merely a decorative or ornamental feature of applicant’s clothing and, thus, does not function as a trademark to indicate the source of applicant’s clothing and to identify and distinguish applicant’s clothing from others,” according to NBC. {mosads}

Ohio State University spokesman Benjamin Johnson told NBC the school is reviewing its options and has six months to respond. 

Last month the filed application caught attention on Twitter, with some ridiculing the university’s attempt to formally add “the.” 

The regulators’ decision was not entirely unexpected. Trademark lawyer Josh Gerben, who first noticed the application, had predicted the request would be rejected by the patent office.

“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,” Gerben tweeted at the time. 

Tags Brand management Intellectual property law Ohio trademark

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