Ohio State University Successfully Registers Trademark for the Word “THE”

By Kevin Harrish on June 22, 2022 at 11:02 am
Ohio State wins a trademark for the word "The"

Ohio State has successfully registered a trademark on the most common word in the English language.

After nearly three years of trying, The Ohio State University has now successfully registered a trademark for the word "THE," which it uses in various kinds of apparel and marketing, according to trademark attorney Josh Gerben of Gerben Perrott PLLC.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office refused Ohio State's initial filing back in September of 2019 for two reasons: the trademarks were considered "merely ornamental" and the clothing company Marc Jacobs had also filed a trademark application for the word "THE" a few months earlier.

"Registration is refused because the applied-for mark as used on the specimen of record is merely a decorative or ornamental feature of applicant’s clothing and, thus, does not function as a trademark to indicate the source of applicant’s clothing and to identify and distinguish applicant’s clothing from others," the response read.

Since then, Ohio State showed the USPTO that it was not using the trademark in a "merely ornamental" manner and settled the dispute with Marc Jacobs, with the two sides agreeing that they could both own a trademark for the word "THE."

With those issues solved, the USPTO granted Ohio State a Class 25 trademark for use on clothing – specifically t-shirts and hats – with all of the apparel being "promoted, distributed and sold through channels customary to the field of sports and collegiate athletics."

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