For years, athletes from Ohio State University have proudly announced that they're from 'THE Ohio State' or 'THE Ohio State University,' with an emphasis on the 'THE' . . . and pronounced THEE not THUH.
Now, Ohio State has come up with THE silliest idea. They're attempting to trademark the word 'The' so that they can make that their THING.
The plan is to put 'THE' on merchandise, and there are already some shirts available. It isn't just a subtle, obnoxious logo tweak . . . the designs just have a giant 'THE' across the front.
A spokesman for Ohio State said, quote, "Like other institutions, Ohio State works 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."
Not surprisingly, other schools are roasting them over this. Ohio University Tweeted, quote, "Good morning from THE first university in the state of Ohio."
And Ohio State's rival, the University of Michigan, jokingly responded with a new logowhere they emphasize their 'OF,' implying they're trademarking that word.
It's worth noting that this is a trademark and NOT a copyright, meaning the 'The' refers to the logo in the application . . . and not the actual word itself.
Common words and phrases can be trademarked if the applicant can prove a distinctive usage outside the traditional meaning. In other words, this could prevent another institution from using "THE" like this.
One trademark lawyer says, quote, "They're not owning the word 'the' here . . . there [are] thousands of clothing brands that already use the word 'the,' so it's ultimately a really weak trademark."
But there could be a snag. The clothing company Marc Jacobs fileda similar application recently to use 'THE' . . . as in 'The Backpack Marc Jacobs' . . . and it was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June.
It's unclear if this would infringe on that.