A few weeks back, we talked about the dumbest trademark application I've ever seen, with the Ohio State University deciding to try to get a trademark on one of the most commonly used determiners in the English language: "The." Honestly, the whole thing is painfully stupid, as trademarking such a common word cannot possibly be worked into the original purpose of trademark law, but here we are. The only good thing thus far to come out of all of this was the University of Michigan's playful suggestion that maybe it should trademark the word "Of."
Fortunately, it wasn't just us IP nerds who found all of this so silly. The public reaction writ large was fairly negative, with plenty of fun being had at the temerity of OSU. But what about OSU fans themselves? How would they react, given that all of this is built on the haughty insistence of NFL players emphasizing the "the" when announcing what school they attended?
Well, Kirk Herbstreit is a useful thermometer for this, given that he is both probably college football's most recognized analyst and a former OSU football player. And, man, does he not have kind words for his alma mater.
College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who played quarterback for the Buckeyes in the 1990s, was the subject of an interview with For The Win this week. He was asked about the whole trademark situation. He did not hold back.
"I've never really bought into that. My dad played at Ohio State, my dad coached with Woody Hayes. Ohio State’s always been Ohio State. I have a diploma that I’m looking at right now, and it says, “The” — T-H-E — Ohio State University, and nobody’s called it “The” Ohio State University, ever, as I grew up in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. And then one night on Monday Night Football — I don’t remember who the player was but he said, “The Ohio State University,” and it stuck. And from that point on, all the fans and everybody started saying “The,” “The,” “The.” To me, it’s Ohio State — always has been, always will be. I think it’s kind of ridiculous, the whole “The” thing.
It comes across to me as very arrogant. I’m just not a fan of it. I didn’t grow up with it. Nobody’s more Ohio State than me, and I never heard it. I never heard “The” in my life until maybe about 15 years ago."
Yeah, all of that. But when this move is getting this kind of reaction from someone like Herbstreit, you really have to start to wonder just what OSU is doing in keeping any of this up. It's a trademark that should, and probably will, be rejected for lacking originality and being too generic. It's a trademark that, by its nature, can't possibly be all that valuable even if granted. And it's apparently at best making the school look quite arrogant, if not creating outright anger, even among Ohio State fans.
It's time to realize this play isn't working and abandon it. It's the smart thing to do.
Filed Under: kirk herbstreit, the, trademarkCompanies: ohio state