Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Trademark filing by university denied by patent office

Attempts to file for and receive trademarks are common among organizations throughout New Jersey and the rest of the United States. While some requests may sound unusual, there are many reasons to seek trademark approval.

For example, a trademark application by Ohio State University was recently denied. The university sought to trademark the word "the" in relation to its full name. Students and faculty often refer to the school as The Ohio State University. The school already sells products to commemorate this name. However, the trademark office said that Ohio State failed to show that the word fits the requirements to be trademarked.

The denial was based on the word being an ornament or an item of decoration. Subsequently, it fails to meet the standard in distinguishing itself from others. Ohio State is reviewing its options and it has six months to respond. A concern for those seeking a trademark is that it is required to be used in a certain way. The simple addition of the word "the" does not meet the standard, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's denial. Ohio State had a previous dispute over a trademark when it tried to claim "OSU," but Oklahoma State University protested. Both now use the letters for its school. However, Ohio State University legally became known as The Ohio State University in 1878.

As this case shows, some trademark applications can be complicated. To address the various trademark considerations, an organization may wish to obtain legal help from a law firm experienced in trademark law.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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