Ohio State successfully trademarked the word “The”

Ohio State ownership of the “The” brand has been formalized, a development that would not be warmly received among non-Buckeyes college football fans.

On Tuesday, the school’s trademark application for the most frequently used words in the English language was officially approved, First reported by trademark attorney Josh Gerbin. The Buckeyes Football Show more or less confirmed the news on Twitter:

How can Ohio be granted such a trademark? Well, as Gerbin explained, the state of Ohio initially applied for the trademark in August 2019, but was denied because a) the US Patent and Trademark Office found it to be “merely decorative” and (b) the apparel company Marc Jacobs applied To get a brand on the same word months ago.

The state of Ohio reportedly opposed Marc Jacobs’ request and eventually reached a settlement in August 2021 allowing joint ownership of “The”. One year later, she apparently convinced the USPTO to use the word more than decorative, allowing it to go ahead and successfully register the trademark.

What does the “The” sign really mean for Ohio?

To be clear, you don’t have to pay Ohio State for use of the word “The” (Yahoo Sports would be guilty of 48 uses in this article alone if that were the case). The brand relates only to category 25 (clothing, mainly) and only to sportswear, as shown in Gerben’s screenshot:

clothing, namely T-shirts, baseball caps and hats; All of the above are promoted, distributed and sold through familiar channels in sports and team athletics

So this brand should only influence you if you plan to sell any clothing with a large engraving on it.

Ohio State fans (and players) using “The” has been a frequent sight for decades, originating from the school’s official name as “The Ohio State University.” While the definite article has technically been part of the name since it was changed from “Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College” in 1878, the school made a deliberate move in 1986 to use “The” in its branding to differentiate itself from other OSUs such as Oregon State and Oklahoma.

The change was clearly common at Buckeye land, and should now be profitable, too, via The Associated Press:

“THE has been a rallying cry in the Ohio community for many years, and Buckeye fans who purchase official Ohio State equipment support student scholarships, libraries, and other university initiatives,” said Ben Johnson, the university’s senior director of media and public relations. He noted that the university’s licensing and branding program generates more than $12.5 million annually, which helps fund scholarships and undergraduate programs.

The United States government now recognizes Ohio ownership of “The”. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

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