CINCINNATI — Any Buckeye isn't afraid to tell you that it's THE Ohio State University, and now they can do so with a trademark behind those three letters.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that OSU can trademark "The" after three years of waiting for approval. The university will now be able to sell merchandise, including t-shirts, hats, baseball caps and more, with the official "The" trademark. The trademark will only be applicable to clothing items, so trademark infringement fines will not have to be paid for the use of "the" in any other circumstance — though Buckeyes far and wide probably would be fine with that.
Trademark attorney Josh Gerben was the first to break the news via Twitter about the trademark.
The Ohio State University has successfully registered a trademark for "THE."— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) June 22, 2022
The registration was just issued on June 21st by the USPTO.
The application was filed back in August 2019. So why did it take 3 years to get approved?
A thread🧵 pic.twitter.com/Wfa5EFp4DS
OSU originally sent in the trademark application in August 2019, but was rejected in September 2019 for two reasons. First, the USPTO said "the" was simply ornamental. Secondly, Marc Jacobs — a men's clothing company — had submitted a trademark application for "the" just months prior.
The university countered by showing the USPTO exactly how "the" wasn't ornamental in its usage, and the Columbus-based university also disputed Marc Jacobs' claim.
Marc Jacobs' and OSU settled their dispute, ultimately deciding both entities could trademark "the" in their own manner. That settlement ended in August 2021, but it took OSU and the USPTO until June 21, 2022 to figure out the ornamental debate with the word "the."
Now, there's no more debate, it's THE Ohio State University.