Has Anyone Tried to Trademark the Word “the”?

Fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes are rightfully proud of their university, and their successful football team. Fans and athletes like to tout The Ohio State Buckeyes, with the emphasis on "The," a verbal swagger intended to proclaim dominance over all comers. In September 2019, the university even attempted to co-opt one of the most common articles in the English language, asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to allow OSU to use only the three-letter word on T-shirts, hats and other merchandise, to the exclusion of any other entity. The Patent Office said no, but there’s still time for the university to appeal and make a stronger case.

Not the one and only:

  • CBS News reported that “the trademark office said the application didn't prove ‘The’ functions as a trademark, meaning the word doesn't distinguish its gear from any other.”

  • Ohio State University tried to trademark OSU on clothing in 2017, but Oklahoma State University had something to say about that. The schools later agreed they could both use the acronym.

  • In 1973, the University of Miami created what’s called its “split U logo,” half orange and half green, and ever since the school has been referred to as simply “The U.” There’s even a beloved “U” statue on campus.

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More Info: CBS News

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