Ohio State University is seeking to trademark the word "The" when used on items marketed for sale, according to a trademark application filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The filing, made on Aug. 8, seeks to protect the school's formal name -- The Ohio State University -- from being used without permission on clothing and hats.
"Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university's brand and trademarks," Ohio State spokesperson Chris Davey told The Columbus Dispatch, which reported the trademark application, in a statement. "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."
Ohio State has indeed been vigorous in its efforts to protect trademarks that hold unique value to the Buckeyes, filing trademarks for phrases like "The Shoe" and the names and likenesses of former coaches Urban Meyer and Woody Hayes.
In 2017, the aggressive efforts nearly hit a roadblock when the attempt to file a trademark for the use of "OSU" on clothing and apparel was formally opposed by Oklahoma State. Eventually, the two schools came to an agreement that allowed both OSUs to benefit financially from their acronyms.
The good news for fans of one of the most commonly used words in the English language is that Ohio State does not appear to have "the" on lockdown for uses outside of its association with the university's name.