The Ohio State University Just Trademarked the Word “THE”

The trademark only applies to merchandise for the school, but social media had thoughts

THE Ohio State University, losing to Michigan in November 2021
THE Ohio State University, losing to Michigan in November 2021

You know when you’re watching a football game and the athletes announce their schools? And you roll your eyes every time someone from a certain Columbus, Ohio school emphasizes “The” before their school name and you try not to throw something at your TV?

Making that irritation official and forever, THE Ohio State University just trademarked the word “THE” via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The trademark applies to T-shirts, baseball caps and hats.

The trademark is important — the trademark and licensing program nets the school about $12.5 million per year — and OSU (or is that TOSU? THE OSU?) acted after Marc Jacobs applied for “THE” in 2019 (the school and the clothing designer came to an agreement to both use the three-letter capped word).

“‘THE’ has been a rallying cry in the Ohio State community for many years,” said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the university. As an archived article on the school’s website notes, “The ‘The’ was actually part of the state legislation when the university was renamed in 1878…Those who wanted the name change thought the original name was too narrow in scope, and that it was inadequate for the institution that was the only beneficiary of the land grant act. President Edward Orton was insistent that a new name would separate the institution from other colleges in Ohio.”

Social media was both amused and annoyed by THE news.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.