(NBC NEWS) — Ohio State University athletes and coaches who insist that you call it "THE Ohio State University" could soon have the federal government on their side after the university filed a request to trademark the word "the" last week.
Application No. 88571984, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, was discovered and publicized Tuesday by Josh Gerben, a prominent trademark lawyer in Washington. The application seeks a trademark on the single word "THE" for use on T-shirts and baseball caps and hats.
Partisans, including the university, point out that "the" is part of its name under state law. And Chris Deavey, a spokesman for the university, told The Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday that it's important to "vigorously protect the university's brand and trademarks."
"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," Deavey said.
Gerben predicted on Tuesday that Ohio State was "likely to receive an initial refusal of the application."
The Ohio State University has filed a trademark application on the word "THE."— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) August 13, 2019
The filing, made on August 8th, indicates #OhioState is offering a brand of "THE" clothing.
Not sure how 'The U' will feel about this one.
My analysis 👇:#BuckeyeNation #MiamiHurricanes pic.twitter.com/1UvLOAOnIc
"For a trademark to be registered for a brand of clothing, the trademark "must be used in a trademarked fashion," , he said on Twitter. "In other words, it has to be used on tagging or labeling for the products.
"In this case, just putting the word 'the' on the front of a hat or on the front of a shirt is not sufficient trademark use," he said.