Ohio State University applies to trademark 'THE' to 'vigorously protect' its brand

Cassandra Negley
Apr 13, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Over 60,000 fans attend the Ohio State University Football Spring Game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State University applied for a trademark for the word 'the'. (Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)

Ohio State University is taking its battle for “THE” to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.

The university filed an application Aug. 8 to trademark the word when used with “The Ohio State University.” The request is for use on clothing, particularly shirts and hats, according to application No. 88571984. Products shown as an example have “THE” in large font, alone, on the apparel.

University spokesman Chris Davey confirmed the trademark request and gave a statement to the Columbus Dispatch:

“Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks.

“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.”

Ohio State trademarked the names of football coaches Urban Meyer (2015) and Woody Hayes (2016). The royalties from Hayes’ trademark were put in a scholarship fund, according to the Dispatch.

In 2017, Ohio State University and Oklahoma State University agreed to continue a “peaceful co-existence” after arguing over the use of OSU.

“THE” Ohio State University has often been criticized for its use of “the” in front of its school name. Previous trademarks filed with the USPTO are mostly under “The Ohio State University.”

Josh Gerben, a prominent trademark lawyer in Washington, first tweeted about it Tuesday.

He said the application has “issues out of the gate” due to insufficient trademark use and will likely receive a refusal, though the university can resubmit.

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