August 16, 2019 (Original Post)

On August 8, The Ohio State University filed a trademark application for the single word “THE.”

‘The’ Ohio State University’s trademark filing claims it is currently using the trademark “THE” for a brand of clothing, namely t-shirts, baseball caps, and hats. To support the filing, the University submitted specimens that show a shirt and hat with the word “THE” written on them.

Right out of the gate, there are issues with this application. 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, the mark must appear on tagging or labeling for the products. In this case, just putting the word “THE” on the front of a hat or shirt is not sufficient trademark use. Because of this oversight, the Ohio State University is likely to receive an initial refusal of the application, but will have an opportunity to fix their error.  It’s surprising that the university was not more sophisticated with the specimens they provided with their application, given this is Trademarks 101.

So the headline today is that ‘The’ Ohio State University has filed a trademark application seeking exclusive federal trademark rights on the word “THE” as it relates to a brand of clothing.

August 30, 2019 (UPDATE)

Last week, founder Josh Gerben reported that The Ohio State University had recently filed a trademark application for ‘THE.’ In this video, Josh explains why the filing will likely result in an ornamental refusal by the USPTO.