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Ohio State University Tries to Trademark the Word ‘The’

Ohio State University has submitted a trademark application for the word “the” when used in ways that clearly signify association with Ohio State’s brand.

In the application (No. 88571984) to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, OSU requested a standard trademark for the word “the” in Ohio State University’s official name that could be used for official school clothing. Currently, all of the college’s merchandise displays the school’s name as “Ohio State University.” However, according to the college’s university archives, the school’s actual name since 1878 has been “The Ohio State University.”

If approved, OSU’s new trademark would allow the institution to include the word “the” on future apparel items to highlight the official name of the university. In an example shared with the USPTO of potential products that could take advantage of the trademark, OSU features “the” prominently displayed across a t-shirt followed by a much-smaller school logo.

“Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks because these assets hold significant value, which benefits our students and faculty and the broader community by supporting our core academic mission of teaching and research,” says Chris Davey, senior associate vice president, university communications, The Ohio State University.

OSU has a long history of licensing its brand to third parties. The school has previously entered partnerships with companies such as Tommy Bahama and Nestlé Confections.

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