Ohio State University has settled a rivalry that has spanned nearly three years. Only this time it wasn’t with another Big Ten School, it was with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Ohio State began to pursue a trademark in August 2019, after fashion retailer Marc Jacobs filed an application for the word a few months earlier.
Initial trademark applications by OSU were rejected by the patent office on the basis of the word being “ornamental,” and because Marc Jacobs' prior filing, which OSU challenged.
Marc Jacobs and OSU reached an agreement in August 2021 that would allow both parties to use the branding. Marc Jacobs is primarily high-end fashion, while Ohio State's focus is on athletic and casual wear.
With the conflict settled, it still took the university almost another year to justify to the patent office that THE is more than an ornamental part of their massive brand.
The trademark approval now gives Ohio State permission to use THE for “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.”