Michigan Trolls Ohio State Over 'The' Trademark

Whether it's on the gridiron or in the ballpark, the University of Michigan is the bitter rival of Ohio State University with the two colleges and their fanbases utterly despising each other. The relationship has led to some wildly entertaining games during the college football season, and now it has expanded to social media.

With the news leaking that Ohio State University was trying to trademark the word "the" on Wednesday, those that run the University of Michigan's Twitter account had the perfect opportunity to rile up the fanbase. They achieved this goal by simply posting a photo on Twitter showing the ideal trademark for the Wolverines. Instead of "the," Michigan opted to lock up "OF" for their use.

No paperwork was actually filed by the college, but a nifty graphic was still created.

Ohio State's attempted trademark for the word "the" was originally discovered by trademark lawyer Josh Gerben and was revealed to CNN. Application No. 88571984 was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, which has the purpose of locking up "the" for use on team merchandise. Players from Ohio State University refuse to refer to the college without saying "The Ohio State University," and this attempted patent fits within that naming convention.

"This application has issues out of the gate," Gerben said. "In order for a trademark to be registered for a brand of clothing, the trademark must be used in a trademark fashion. In other words, it has to be used on tagging or labeling for the products. In this case, just putting the word 'the' on the front of a hat or on the front of a shirt is not sufficient trademark use."


In addition to pursuing the most common word in the English language, Ohio State University has also filed trademarks for former coaches Urban Meyer and Woody Hayes. According to CNN, the purpose of these is to create bobblehead dolls and figures that represent the former team leaders.

While Ohio State's football team has won the past seven meetings against Michigan (2012-2018), the tides may have turned with the latest interaction on Twitter. The Wolverines social media team used the bizarre nature of this attempted trademark and turned it into an entertaining portion of the afternoon. Sometimes, you have to take the wins when you can.