In August 2019, The Ohio State University filed to register THE as a trademark for T-shirts & hats.

The pundits went wild. “How can someone own the word THE?” they asked. Actually, there’s no reason why someone can’t have THE as a registered trademark. If The Ohio State University has THE as a trademark, that doesn’t mean people can’t use the word “the” or have the word “the” as part of another trademark.

In September 2019 one of those pundits gloated when the Trademark Office rejected the application filed by The Ohio State University. “Ha, ha, Ohio State. We told you you can’t do that!”

But the Trademark Office’s objections had nothing to do with the issues raised by the snickering hoards and, in fact, it kinda shows that the snickering hoards are 100% wrong.

The big issue raised by the Trademark Office is the fact that Marc Jacobs already has a pending application for THE for clothing. So it’s not that The Ohio State University can’t register THE for hats and T-shits, it’s that Marc Jacobs is ahead in line.

I predict that the Marc Jacobs application won’t make it to registration because the specimens submitted by Marc Jacobs aren’t acceptable. I also predict The Ohio State University’s application will register.



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