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It’s probably one of the most commonly used words in the English language, and now Ohio State University legally owns the word “THE”.

The story of how it came to acquire the word originates in 2019, when the university first attempted to get the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to grant a trademark over the word “THE” to use on hats and t-shirts.

In a Twitter thread, trademark attorney Josh Gerben explained what happened.

Its 2019 request was rejected at the time by the USPTO because it claimed that the trademark was “merely ornamental” and because designer clothing company Marc Jacobs had also filed an application for “THE” months earlier.

The school then made an attempt to show the USPTO that the trademark was not simply ornamental and also opposed the Marc Jacobs trademark application.

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Between them, Marc Jacobs and Ohio State University settled the dispute in August 2021, agreeing that they could both have ownership of the word.

After months, the university was able to “clean up the ‘merely ornamental’ issue with the USPTO” and the trademark for “THE” was registered for use on clothing.

In a picture of the registration posted by Gerben, it reads: “THE MARK CONSISTS OF STANDARD CHARACTERS WITHOUT CLAIM TO ANY PARTICULAR FONT STYLE, SIZE OR COLOR.”

Ohio State University previously sued the University of Oklahoma for using the letter “O” so it remains to be seen what the school will wield with its new “THE” trademark.

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