Ohio State University recently filed a federal trademark application for the mark THE in connection with clothing. The application has elicited plenty of news coverage and lots of laughs, but the question remains: is THE really eligible for trademark registration?
Collective and certification marks hammer home the core tenet of trademark law: trademarks exist to protect consumers, not to privilege registrants. (I promise, this one’s always true.) Beyond that fundamental principle, however, these oddball marks behave differently from the rest of the trademark family.