The Ohio State University is attempting to trademark the word “the,” according to an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Application No. 88571984 was filed Thursday, and the school seeks to use the word “the” mainly on t-shirts, baseball caps and hats.
The application was discovered by Josh Gerben, a trademark lawyer.
“This application has issues out of the gate,” Gerben said in a video posted to Twitter. “In order for a trademark to be registered for a brand of clothing, the trademark must be used in a trademark fashion. In other words, it has to be used on tagging or labeling for the products. In this case, just putting the word ‘the’ on the front of a hat or on the front of a shirt is not sufficient trademark use.”
Gerben says he expects that the initial application will be refused by the US Patent and Trademark Office, but the school has a chance to fix it and get it right.
“This only would apply for usage of ‘The’ in ways that clearly signify association with Ohio State and its brand, like for example a scarlet and grey T-shirt with ‘The’ on the front,” Chris Davey, senior associate vice president of university communications for the Ohio State University, wrote in an email.
The school has also filed for trademarks for the names of football coaches Urban Meyer and Woody Hayes for use on clothing, toy figurines and bobblehead dolls.
Founded in 1870, the school was originally called the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. It officially became The Ohio State University in 1878.