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Trademark filing for the word "the"

US Patent and Trademark Office

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has approved Ohio State’s application to trademark the word “THE,” which has become a popular rallying cry for sports fans of THE Ohio State University (shhh…no one tell them it’s the most common word in the English language).

The process took years: As trademark attorney Josh Gerben explained on Twitter, Ohio State first filed the application in 2019. But that was held up for a couple of reasons, including a) a dispute with fashion label Marc Jacobs, which had tried to trademark the word a few months earlier and b) the USPTO’s claim that the trademark was “merely ornamental.” Both issues, apparently, have been resolved.

Good news is, we don’t owe Ohio State $2 million for the 85 times we used “the” in this newsletter, and you won’t owe them anything for using it in regular conversation. The trademark only applies to certain types of sports-related clothing.

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