Ohio State University Approved for Trademark “The”

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State University has won a battle to trademark the word “The”.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the university’s request on Tuesday. The school said it allows Ohio State to control the use of “The” on branded products associated with and sold through track and field and college channels, such as T-shirts, baseball caps and caps.

“THE has been the watchword for the Ohio State community for years, and Buckeye fans who purchase official Ohio State gear support student scholarships, libraries and other university initiatives,” said Ben Johnson, senior director of media and public relations at the university. He noted that the university’s licensing and trademark programs generate more than $12.5 million a year, which helps fund student scholarships and college programs.

Fashion retailer Marc Jacobs filed an application a few months ago, and Ohio State University began filing for the trademark in August 2019. The company and the university reached an agreement in August 2021 to allow both parties to use the brand.

The Patent Office rejected Ohio State’s original application, finding that the mark appeared to be used “in a manner of decoration only” and “for decorative features” and appeared to have no trademark function to distinguish these goods from others.

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