Ohio State University wins the right to trademark the word ‘the’
Ohio State University began its pursuit of the word ‘the’ in August 2019 after fashion brand Marc Jacobs filed a rival application a few months before.
The term “the” may now be trademarked by a US institution.
Ohio State University’s request for exclusive rights to the word, specifically on branded products like T-shirts and hats that show the word by itself, was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The university, which is particularly well-known for its athletic prowess, estimates that the phrase generates sales of about $12.5 million (£10.2 million) yearly.
The university’s senior director of media and public relations, Ben Johnson, said in a statement that “THE has been a rallying cry in the Ohio State community for many years, and Buckeye fans who buy official Ohio State clothing fund student scholarships, libraries, and other university programmes.”
He continued, “Like other institutions, Ohio State endeavours to safeguard the university’s brand and trademarks because these resources are beneficial to students and staff and support our primary academic missions of teaching and research.
After fashion label Marc Jacobs submitted a competing application a few months earlier, Ohio State started its pursuit of the term “the” in August 2019.
In August 2021, the two organisations came to an agreement allowing both sides to use “the” in their branding.
The university’s initial application was denied by the patent office because it used the word “merely decoratively” and just as a “ornamental feature,” which did not necessitate a trademark.