Ohio State University has caused a great amount of confusion recently when attempting to register a trademark on ‘The’. The University claim that the full name of the institution has always been ‘The Ohio State University’ since it was founded in 1870. Ohio State University are applying for the registration for a trademark of their full name which will then be used on all merchandise; such as the university’s accessories and clothing for students.
However, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has refused the application to register the trademark. The USPTO has said that “Registration is refused because the applied-for mark…is merely a decorative or ornamental feature of the applicant’s clothing and, thus, does not function as a trademark to indicate the source of applicant’s clothing and to identify and distinguish applicant’s clothing from others”. Ohio State University have been granted six months to respond to the ruling made.
The University, however, is not unfamiliar with trademark disputes. In 2017, Ohio State University attempted to register a trademark on its initials ‘OSU’ for similar merchandise purposes. But despite that, Oklahoma State University objected to that, and both institutions eventually agreed that they could both continue to use the initials of ‘OSU’ on their merchandise.