Back on August 8 of this year, The Ohio State University filed a trademark application for the word “THE,” claiming the mark was being used for a brand of clothing. Now, the USPTO has issued an initial refusal of the University’s application, citing two main issues with filing.

First, the USPTO found that a prior application for the word “THE” had already been filed by fashion brand Marc Jacobs.  If this application were to register, the USPTO noted it would block Ohio State’s application.

Second, the USPTO office action states that the University is not using the word “THE” as a trademark. In the original application, Ohio State submitted specimens that show the word “THE” across a hat and shirt. In order for a trademark to be registered for a brand of clothing, the mark must be shown on tags or labels, and not merely used in an ornamental fashion.

For these two reasons, the USPTO has initially refused Ohio State’s application, but the University does have the opportunity to respond to the refusal within the next six months to fix their errors.