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Ohio State successfully trademarks word ‘THE’ for use on clothing

Ohio State successfully trademarked the word “THE” for use on clothing through the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, ending a three-year quest to register one of the most commonly used words in the English language.

Trademark attorney Josh Gerben, founder of Gerben Intellectual Property, tweeted the trademark certificate Tuesday afternoon.

The USPTO refused the initial application for the mark, which was filed in August 2019, because “THE” was deemed “merely a decorative or ornamental feature of applicant’s clothing,” according to an official letter issued in response to the application included in Gerben’s thread about the registration.

Prior to Ohio State’s application, clothing company Marc Jacobs had also filed an application for “THE,” which Ohio State opposed in its response to the USPTO. The university also showed the USPTO that it was not using the trademark only in a decorative or ornamental way.

Ohio State and Marc Jacobs ultimately reached a settlement in which they could both own a registration for “THE” in August 2021, and the university continued through the USPTO application process to register the trademark after clearing up the issue of the mark being deemed “merely ornamental,” according to documents tweeted by Gerben.

The registration certificate issued Tuesday allows Ohio State control over the use of “THE” on clothing such as T-shirts, baseball caps and hats.

(Photo: Joseph Maiorana / USA Today)

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