Ohio State's quest for a trademark on the most common word in the English language hit a snag on Wednesday as the university received an initial refusal on their trademark application for the word "THE."
Here is the official denial, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The two primary issues with the conflict, as Josh Gerben of the Gerben Law Firm points out, are that the clothing company Marc Jacobs already filed an application for the word "THE" before Ohio State made the filing, and that Ohio State is not using properly using the word "THE" as a trademark.
Gerben explains below:
Ohio State University's trademark application for the word "THE" has been refused by the USPTO.— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) September 11, 2019
The USPTO found that:
1. @OhioState is not using the word "THE" as a trademark.
2. Marc Jacobs filed an application for "THE" before Ohio State made its filing. #The analysis pic.twitter.com/KfQmlVtvQA
But that doesn't mean this is the end of the road.
Gerben points out that the Marc Jacobs application has also received an initial refusal for "not using the trademark properly" and it's "entirely possible that that Marc Jacobs application will go away."
Even if that's the case, Ohio State still has work to for its own trademark to register.
"Ohio State University filed a trademark application as it relates to a brand of shirts and hats," Gerben said. "In order for the trademark to register, Ohio State would have to use the trademark on a hangtag or label for the hat or shirt, and not just on the front of the shirt or on the front of the hat."
Ohio State now has six months to respond to the refusal.
"Ultimately, this is a correctable error," Gerben said. "But Ohio State will have to go back and start properly labeling the shirts and hats if they want the trademark application to be approved, provided that the Marc Jacobs application ultimately is not."