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Notre Dame Football vs Ohio State Prologue: “THE” Trademark War

The battle no one asked for but we got anyway

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Oklahoma State at Notre Dame South Bend Tribune-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially the offseason for Notre Dame athletics. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start counting down the days to Notre Dame football’s matchup with THE™ Ohio State Buckeyes to open the 2022 season.

And speaking of Ohio State, notice the trademark symbol above, because they finally succeeded in trolling the rest of the college football universe by trademarking the word “THE.”

You may recall that the Buckeyes pulled this same stunt back in 2019 and their trademark attempt got swatted away Dikembe Mutumbo-style. Well, turns out OSU spent the last three years convincing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to drink THE™ Kool-Aid. And the USPTO apparently did, cause they finally signed off on the trademark on Tuesday.

And now, for the question that I’m sure every Irish fan is asking themselves: What does this mean for Notre Dame’s chances in Columbus on Sept. 3 and their place among college football’s elite?

Normally I would say this has no impact. I mean, nobody playing on that field is going to care about Ohio State’s branding and merchandising. But then I thought about it for a second, and I realized that this is yet another opportunity for Notre Dame to rattle the Buckeyes’ cage.

Ohio State trademarked the word “THE”; so, Notre Dame needs to trademark the word “du.”

Think about it. OSU never gets tired of calling themselves “THE Ohio State University,” and they’ve turn it into a merchandising gimmick:

But Notre Dame has their own card to play in this game. After all, the full name bestowed upon the school by Fr. Edward Sorin is “L’université de Notre-Dame-du-Lac” (“The University of Our Lady of the Lake”). Heck, Notre Dame’s student handbook is already called “du Lac.”

The USPTO just let Ohio State trademark the article “THE”: the most common word in the entire English Language. They probably won’t care as much about Notre Dame trademarking a French preposition. And once that hurdle is cleared, they can just do what Ohio State does and slap it on some apparel. I’ve already put together a couple of workups:

Make this next year’s “The Shirt”
Hayden Adams
For everyone who studies abroad in France
Hayden Adams

If you wanna play with the big boys, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. And it would be just one of several shots Notre Dame has taken at Ohio State the past few months.

I mean, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman has already 1) said he didn’t want to make “the wrong decision twice” in reference to choosing OSU over ND when he was a player, 2) attempted to sway Buckeyes wide receiver coach Brian Hartline to join the Irish and 3) succeeded in poaching then-linebackers coach Al Washington from Columbus to be the defensive line coach in South Bend.

(There was also that more recent “controversy” where Freeman’s quotes about Ohio State and Cincinnati academics were taken out of context in a CBSSports story, although I’d rather not give that more oxygen. But even that was an attempt to differentiate Freeman’s current school from his previous one as he goes toe to toe with them in recruiting.)

Freeman is willing to ruffle feathers, and that’s a good thing. ND’s marketing department could take a page out of his book.

T–73 days to Sept. 3. Get hype.

(P.S. I reserve the right to sue Notre Dame if they try to appropriate my idea without compensation)