Ohio State secures trademark for the word ‘THE’ on clothing

Ohio State University has settled a rivalry that has spanned nearly three years. Only this time it was not with another Big Ten School, it was with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Ohio State has officially registered a trademark for the most common word in the English language: “THE.”

Trademark attorney Josh Gerben first broke the news on Twitter.

Ohio State began pursuing a trademark in August 2019, after fashion retailer Marc Jacobs filed an application for the word a few months earlier.

Initial trademark applications by OSU were rejected by the patent office on the basis of the word being “ornamental,” and because Marc Jacobs’ prior filing, which OSU challenged

Ohio State University regularly uses the definitive article "The" in front of its name, as seen here in the university seal embedded in the pavement at the east entrance to the Oval on the main campus in Columbus.

Marc Jacobs and OSU reached an agreement in August 2021 that would allow both parties to use the branding. Marc Jacobs is primarily high-end fashion, while Ohio State’s focus is on athletic and casual wear.

With the conflict settled, it still took the university almost another year to justify to the patent office that THE is more than an ornamental part of their massive brand.


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