Ohio State University will not be getting “THE” trademark.
Attorney Josh Gerben took to Twitter on Wednesday to speak about the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of the university’s claim to the word. Gerben, founder of the trademark-specializing Gerben Law Firm, created a video documenting the initial denial.
In August, the University announced its intentions to trademark the word “The”. The school has been formally known as “The Ohio State University” since 1878. Alumni and fans of the school and its Buckeye-branded athletic programs frequent emphasize “the” when declaring their alma mater and/or fanhood.
Gerben, however, details the rejection with official documents and legal explanations. He begins by explaining that the renowned fashion line of designer Marc Jacobs has previously put in a request to trademark “the”. Jacobs’ official shopping website is label “The Marc Jacobs”, which is also the name of one of his biggest store locations in Manhattan.
Gerben notes that Jacobs has likewise received an initial refusal “for not using the trademark properly”. Should their request be deleted, Ohio State would move ahead in the pecking order.
But Gerben further notes that OSU is “not properly using the word ‘the’ as a trademark”.
“This is because Ohio State University filed the trademark application as it relates to a brand of shirts and hats.” Gerben explains while carrying a prototype cap that reads “THE” in silver script. “In order for the trademark to register, Ohio State would have to use the trademark on a hangtag or label for the hat or shirts and not just on the front of the shirt or the front of the hat.”
Gerben states that the error is “correctable” and that Ohio State will have to go back to the drawing board (and hope that the Jacobs one falls through) should they wish to continue. They have six months to fix the issue.
Ohio State has already successfully trademarked several of their other athletic traditions, including the terms “The Shoe” (referring to their football home of Ohio Stadium) and “Script Ohio”. They have also trademarked the names and likenesses of former football coaches Urban Meyer and Woody Hayes.