Ohio State University

Quite often, it becomes difficult to write even a single sentence without using the word “the,” and surprisingly this common three-letter word is now appearing on various Trademark Applications. Recently, the Ohio State University (OSU) has filed a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the utterly indistinct word “the.” With the Trademark Application No. 88571984, the university seeks to use the word primarily on baseball caps, hats, and T-shirts.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the university is a tad behind the famous fashion designer, Marc Jacobs, who had also filed a trademark application for the same word with the USPTO in May. The designer’s trademark application has received preliminary approval; however, it is still under review. It will indeed have a priority over the university’s trademark application as Jacob’s had filed the claim earlier and if he gets the Trademark Registered, the university may have to fight for the Trademark Protection of its use of the word “the.”

Trademark Lawyer, Josh Gerben, tweeted about the university’s trademark application by explaining that to register a trademark for a brand of clothing; it must be present in the labels or tags of the fashion products or items. In this instance, just putting the word “the” on a hat, cap, or T-shirt won’t justify the use of the trademark. The attorney is of the view that the trademark application of the university will not be accepted. However, if the university amends its trademark application by justifying the use of the word “the” concerning the university’s logo or name might increase its chances of getting the trademark registered.

The senior associate vice president of university communications at the OSU stated that the university intends to use the proposed trademark distinctively. They shall only apply for the usage of the word “the” in ways signifying association with the university and its brand; for instance, a scarlet and grey T-shirt with the word “the” on the front side.

The university has also filed several other trademark applications before including the names of football coaches Woody Hayes and Urban Meyer for their use on bobblehead dolls, toy figurines, and clothing.

Originally called the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, the university was founded in the year 1870, and in 1878, it officially became the Ohio State University.