Ohio State Seeks to Include 'The' in New Trademark

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When introducing themselves on Monday Night Football, NFL players whose college careers were forged in Columbus, Ohio, often say, "The Ohio State University" when referencing their school of choice.

Now, the university wants to make 'The' the official fourth word of the university's brand in all merchandise marketed for sale, including T-shirts and hats. On Aug. 8, it applied for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., requesting a standard trademark character for the phrase "The Ohio State University."

From AB: How to Establish, Protect Organizational Trademarks

"Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks," university spokesperson Chris Davey said in a statement after confirming the trademark submission to The Columbus Dispatch. "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."

How vigorously? According to the Dispatch, Ohio State last fall had 150 trademarks in 17 countries, plus a number of pending applications, and had worked with about 400 licensees. It has even trademarked the names of its famous head football coaches, including Urban Meyer (2015) and Woody Hayes (2016). Royalties received through references to Woody Hayes, who died in 1987, support a scholarship fund.

OSU's attempt to trademark the acronym OSU in 2017 met pushback from another OSU — Oklahoma State University — and the two schools agreed to allow unfettered use of those three letters nationwide.

As for "The," three letters that comprise one of the most-used words in the English language, rival Michigan had some playful pushback of its own. As ESPN reported, @UMich on Wednesday mockingly tweeted a logo featuring the university's signature block "M" dwarfed by the word "OF" with the simple message "TM."

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