Ohio State's Bid to Trademark the Word 'The' Denied by US Patent Office

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2019

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 23:  The Ohio State Buckeyes logo on a sweat shirt before a college basketball game against the Maryland Terrapins at the XFinity Center on February 23, 2019 in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The United States Patent and Trademark Office denied an initial attempt by the Ohio State University to trademark the word "the."

Darren Rovell of the Action Network reported the update Wednesday. Trademark attorney Josh Gerben provided further information about the ruling:

The school made the filing in August in an effort to use "the" on apparel, including T-shirts and hats. Alumni often refer to OSU by stressing the article in "the Ohio State University," which is the baseline for the application. The university presents its name as "The Ohio State University."

Chris Davey, the school's senior associate vice president of university communications, told Allen Kim of CNN there were no plans to use the trademark beyond the direct branding.

"This only would apply for usage of 'The' in ways that clearly signify association with Ohio State and its brand, like for example a scarlet and grey T-shirt with 'The' on the front," Davey explained.

Gerben noted Ohio State now has six months to file a response to the USPTO if it wishes to continue the application process or the effort will be abandoned.

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