To make sure no one confuses the various Ohio State universities, the one in Columbus has filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the word "the." The school wants to protect its use of "the" in large letters above the Ohio State logo on merchandise, the Washington Post reports. It's a word the rest of us need to use often, but evidently we'll still be able to order "the garden salad" or, in California, take "the 405." In an email to the New York Post, a school spokesman said, "This only would apply for usage of “The” in ways that clearly signify association with Ohio State and its brand." One hitch is that the fashion label Marc Jacobs asked first to protect the same word, and it's won preliminary approval. Josh Gerben, a trademark lawyer who discovered the Ohio State application, says the Marc Jacobs application would take precedence.
The application prompted a few digs Wednesday. Ohio University tweeted, "Good morning from THE first university in the state of Ohio." Ohio State, which is much larger, named itself The Ohio State University in 1878. The school has previously sought trademark protections for using the names of Urban Meyer and Woody Hayes, both past football coaches, on clothes and bobblehead dolls, per CNN. But the "the" application may be on a different level. In USA Today, Nancy Armor called the idea "pure pretentiousness" and "THE worst idea" Ohio State has had in a while. (Read more trademarks stories.)