The Wall Street Journal and Josh Gerben Discuss Ohio State University’s Registration of “THE” as a Trademark

The United States Patent and Trademark Office just approved Ohio State University’s application to trademark the word “THE,” which has become a Buckeyes rallying cry.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to Josh Gerben about the probable reasoning behind the initial application, as well as what OSU can now protect with their registration.

“Universities historically are very particular about their trademarks, and they go to a lot of lengths to enforce their trademarks,” said Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney, who noted Ohio State’s trademark application on Twitter. “There is a lot of value in a university’s brand.”

Companies and other parties typically file trademark applications because they are worried someone else will try to stop them from using a trademark, and they want to register to prevent that from happening, Mr. Gerben said. Having a trademark also allows the owner to enforce it, allowing companies or others to crack down on vendors selling knock off goods, he said.

For Ohio State, the university doesn’t have an absolute right to use the word “THE” on apparel, Mr. Gerben said. There are numerous other trademark registrations that include the word “THE” in clothing as part of a phrase.

The trademark, however, could stop another party from using just the word “THE” as the name of a brand, he said.

Source: De Avila, Joseph. “The Ohio State University Officially Trademarks the Word ‘THE’.” 22 June 2022.

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