Universities and colleges across the country often joke about emphasizing the "The" before their school name, but few have taken it as far as Ohio State University.
Last Thursday, the school took the strange step of filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to officially trademark the single word "The."
The Ohio State University has filed a trademark application on the word "THE."— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) August 13, 2019
The filing, made on August 8th, indicates #OhioState is offering a brand of "THE" clothing.
Not sure how 'The U' will feel about this one.
My analysis 👇:#BuckeyeNation #MiamiHurricanes pic.twitter.com/1UvLOAOnIc
In their application, Ohio State said they want to use the word on t-shirts and other school memorabilia that they sell.
Analysts and critics have often criticized Ohio State for being obsessive about adding "the" to the school's name whenever university is mentioned.
Over the years, dozens of outlets have written op-eds about how particularly obsessive Ohio State students and fans are about how people say the school's name. Even some alumni of the school, like former Buckeye quarterback and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, have refused to use "the" when referring to the school.
The move was universally bashed and ridiculed online, but university spokesman Chris Davey defended the decision to try for the application.
Kirk Herbstreit: I have NEVER said 'The' Ohio State, and I never will. It is pompous and stupid.— Mark Blankenbaker (@UofLSheriff50) April 11, 2014
“Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks,” Davey told The Columbus Dispatch. “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.”
Lawyer Josh Gerben, who first tweeted about the move, said the application was poorly put together and was unlikely to be approved.
"So 'The' Ohio State University is likely to receive an initial refusal of the application," Gerben said in a video. "They're going to have a chance to fix this and get it right. It's surprising that the university would not have been a little bit more sophisticated in the specimens they submitted with their application."
University officials said the name was a part of the school's history, and a University Archives FAQ Page details what went into officially naming the school "The Ohio State University" in 1878.
"The 'The' was actually part of the state legislation when the university was renamed in 1878. The following excerpt is from the Board of Trustee minutes: '…the educational institution heretofore known as the "Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College," shall be known and designated hereafter as "The Ohio State University."' Those who wanted the name change thought the original name was too narrow in scope, and that it was inadequate for the institution that was the only beneficiary of the land grant act," the school said.
"President Edward Orton was insistent that a new name would separate the institution from other colleges in Ohio. Legend also has it that 'The' was used to show the other colleges which institution was supposed to be the leader in the state – both in size and in financial support from the legislature," the school added.