The Power Of “THE”

As a matter of the English language, “the” is a definite article. explains that “the” is “used, especially before a noun, with a specifying or particularizing effect, as opposed to the indefinite or generalizing force of the indefinite article a or an.”

Of course, any graduate or fan of The Ohio State University knows that “THE” is used with “a specifying or particularizing effect.” And, as of this week, so does the rest of the world–because this week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registered “THE” as a trademark of the Ohio State University when that word is used on branded products associated with and sold through athletics and collegiate channels. That recognition reflects the efforts and emphasis of the many Ohio State athletes who have identified their alma mater as “THE Ohio State University” on sports broadcasts.

I think it is great that Ohio State has successfully registered “THE” as a trademark for THE University, because it bugs the crap out of other schools–like TTUN. Let those other schools stumble along with their indefinite articles or prepositions! Ohio State may not win the national championship, or even the Big Ten, every year, but we’ll always be “THE.”

Buying Barack And Marketing Michelle (Cont.)

By coincidence, on the same day that I wrote about the marketing of President Obama, I ran across a news article that, I think, highlights the issue.

According to ABC News, the Obama re-election campaign is suing a website called that is selling t-shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons with the Obama campaign logo.  The lawsuit charges that the website is infringing on the re-election campaign’s trademark.  The article also notes that every sale of such items by means lost revenue for the Obama re-election campaign, and also means a lost opportunity for the campaign to get name, address, and other contact information that would allow  the t-shirt purchaser to be approached for additional campaign contributions later.

The owner of says he’s worked cooperatively with Democratic candidates in the past and is disappointed at being sued.  He says his website supports only Democrats and is used primarily by state and country Democrats who don’t want to pay the high prices charged by the Obama campaign website.  Whereas a single t-shirt on the Obama website costs $30, you can get 500 t-shirts from for $5.49 each.  (I suppose that bit of information tells you something about the Obama campaign’s product mark-up, doesn’t it?)

It’s odd to think that a presidential candidate would object to someone else selling shirts with messages that support that candidate’s election, but we apparently have moved past that innocent notion.  In politics today, business is business.