Ohio State University Trademark ‘The’
Ohio State University has received a trademark for one of the most common words in the English language, which supporters of the school often emphasize when speaking its name: “the.”
The school’s players, alumni, and supporters often speak their names in that consistent rhythm, as football fans most hear the NFL starting lineups introducing themselves on Sunday or Monday nights. While athletes from other schools may simply say that they went to Michigan or Penn State, a Buckeye rarely cuts corners: “Ohio State University,” they would say, usually a theatrical followed by an emphasis on “the” Add pauses.
For supporters of Ohio State, tradition is nurtured and what sets the school apart from the rest. (To Ohio State’s rivals, it’s to much fanfare. To each other.)
The trademark, issued Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, won’t turn lawyers heavy-handed on a hunt for anyone using the word “the” — its protections are limited to a narrow set of circumstances, unless people Not likely to pass. They are selling knockoff Ohio State merchandise. But it does give the university some protection against unlicensed vendors, and adds to the school’s efforts to coin the very generic term.
“The Ohio State community has been a rallying cry for many years,” Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said in a statement.
Many universities are fiercely protecting their trademarks, and the state of Ohio is no different. Mr Johnson said the trademark and licensing program earns the university an average of more than $12.5 million each year.
In a notable example from 2012, the University of Alabama apologized to a local baker after it received a cease-and-desist letter ordering it to stop using the college’s Script A on cakes and cookies.
Ohio State University first filed for a trademark for “the” in 2019 but ran into conflict with apparel designer Marc Jacobs, who was also applying to trademark the word for use in his clothing . They reached an agreement in 2021 that would allow them both to register to trademark for the word; Ohio State’s trademark is limited to clothing—t-shirts and hats—that are sold through “channels prevalent in the fields of sports and collegiate athletics,” according to its trademark.
Trademark attorney Josh Gerben said the specific focus is that trademarking the Ohio State Common Word will not prevent other companies from placing the word “the” in their names or products. The trademark will only be used if someone is trying to represent the state of Ohio using the word, he said.
“The state of Ohio is not going to get a very wide amount of security on word,” he said. “It’s a very, very narrow registration with very narrow enforcement capabilities attached to it.”