'The' trademark attempt from Ohio State denied by U.S. patent office

Ohio State's move to trademark "the" has been denied. Initially, anyway. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Ohio State’s move to patent the word “the” for use on its merchandise was not initially accepted by the United States Patent and Trademark office.

Per Cleveland.com, the school received a letter from the office denying the claim. And the Marc Jacobs fashion line is involved.

The letter cites two reasons. One is that the Marc Jacobs fashion line beat the university to the punch, seeking to trademark “the” on May 6 for its use on handbags, knapsacks and other items. Ohio State didn’t file its application until Aug. 8.

The other reason is that Ohio State’s proposed use of it on clothing “is merely a decorative or ornamental feature of applicant’s clothing.” In other words, it’s an add-on and not something that would help people associate with the name of the university itself.

Don’t worry, Marc Jacobs’ request was denied too. And Ohio State can still appeal. The school has six months to file an appeal with more explanation for the trademark.

Ohio State has previously trademarked the names of former coaches.

Ohio State filed trademark request in August

The school heard back pretty quickly from the trademark office after it made its initial application in the weeks before the football season.

“Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks,” an Ohio State spokesperson told the Columbus Dispatch in August.

“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.”

That vigorous protection of the brand also extends to things such as cake decorations. Seriously. Ohio State’s current trademark protections extend to decorated food. There’s a bakery that pays the school $600 a year and 12 percent of all licensed sales so it can use Ohio State’s logos for cakes and other treats. And Ohio State is apparently pretty particular.

From the Dispatch:

The Original Goodie Shop in Upper Arlington decided a few years ago to work directly with Ohio State to obtain licensing for a line of baked goods, co-owner Emilie Smith said.

The bakery pays about $600 a year and gives the university 12% of sales, she said. "Every year we have to renew this, with the fee, and we have to send them every single product that we sell so that they can make sure the quality is there, and so that they can approve the design."

Ohio State recently rejected a helmet because the stripes were slightly wrong, she said. And "00" is the only jersey number allowed.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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