Ohio State University has successfully trademarked the word 'THE'
Ohio State Universityhas successfully trademarked the word "THE."
- US Patent and
TrademarkOffice issued a certificate on Tuesday approving the request.
The Ohio State University has successfully registered a trademark for the word "THE."
In a Tuesday certificate from the US Patent and Trademark Office obtained by local
In a statement shared with Insider, Ohio State said it was "pleased" with the decision and said the trademark will cover branded items "associated with and sold through athletics and collegiate channels."
"THE has been a rallying cry in the Ohio State community for many years, and Buckeye fans who purchase official Ohio State gear support student scholarships, libraries and other university initiatives," a university spokesperson said. "Like other institutions, Ohio State works to protect the university's brand and trademarks because these assets benefit students and faculty, and support our core academic mission of teaching and research."
The spokesperson said Ohio State makes $12.5 million in annual revenue from the university's trademark and licensing program — money the spokesperson said goes to "scholarships and university programs."
Ohio State originally filed to trademark "THE" in 2019, and it was initially rejected after fashion designer
Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney who tweeted a thread about the certificate, told Insider that the trademark doesn't provide an "absolute right of word," but rather a right of word or phrase as it relates to certain goods.
"So here, Ohio State has tried to register the trademark for the word 'THE' as it relates to a clothing brand — and ultimately that is what they have registered here," he said.
He said the rights the school has from the trademark in the clothing space are limited and could only be enforced in a narrow context.
With "federal registration, if the mark is highly unique, would theoretically allow Ohio State to be the only brand that use the word 'THE' in the clothing space," Gerben said. However, he added, there are so many other trademarks already registered in the clothing space that use the word "THE."
An example of violating the trademark, Gerben said, would be if someone starts making shirts with the Ohio State colors and tries to sell them, and they use the word "THE."
Gerben said people don't have to worry about getting a letter from Ohio State if they use the word "THE" going forward.
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