from the facepalm dept
For at least three years now, we have been discussing the goings on concerning a trademark application submitted by Ohio State University for using the word “the” on apparel. If your brain just came to a screeching halt, it may be because you’re not a college sports fan. See, Ohio State University absolutely loves referring to itself as The Ohio State University. Part of the tradition is for athletes who go on to have professional careers always announce their college affiliation by really leaning into the word “the”. Even college sports commentators think it’s all very stupid and the USPTO initially rejected the trademark application based largely on technical grounds.
Which was curious, because technical grounds aren’t the largest issue here. The USPTO should have rejected the application based on the notions that the word “the” is one of the most commonly used words in the English language and therefore shouldn’t get trademark protection, not to mention that a shirt with the word “the” on it does absolutely nothing to inform the public that that shirt is an OSU product. But OSU pushed for the trademark in yet another application… and the USPTO somehow decided to grant the mark.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved Ohio State’s application Tuesday by issuing a registration certificate. It allows Ohio State to control the use of “THE” on “clothing, namely, t-shirts, baseball caps, and hats; all of the foregoing being promoted, distributed, and sold through channels customary to the field of sports and collegiate athletics,” the certificate reads.
You can see the absurd certificate in the link. It looks hilarious, with just the word “the” at the top. Except that none of this is actually funny. Why?
Well, because the USPTO’s actions now mean that nobody else can make any athletic apparel, hats, or other clothing consisting solely of the word “the”. And while very few people or companies actually do that, they certainly should be allowed to. Because it’s the word “the”. No matter how annoying OSU has been with its silly little tradition, the word “the” on clothing is not identified with OSU. Or any other entity.
Because it’s just the word “the”. And the USPTO really, really should know better.
Companies: ohio state, the ohio state
Source by www.techdirt.com