Ohio State University is attempting to trademark possibly the most common word in the English language — “The” — according to NBC News.
The official name of the university is indeed “The Ohio State University,” although the insistence, particularly from the school’s athletic programs, upon being referred to that way is viewed as arrogant and pretentious by many outsiders.
Still, the school has filed a trademark application on the word “the” for the purpose of creating hats and shirts that feature the single word “THE” on them.
“Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks,” university spokesman Chris Davey said. “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.”
Trademark attorney Josh Gerben, who first publicized the application on Twitter, said he does not believe the application will be approved.
“My prediction here is that this application has issues out of the gate,” Gerben said in a video posted on 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, putting the word ‘the’ on the front of a hat or on the front of a shirt is not sufficient trademark use.”
Gerben also said he was surprised that Ohio State’s application for the trademark was so unsophisticated, apparently lacking an awareness of “trademarks 101.”