ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Consider the word "the." A grammatical article, it's the most commonly used word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Corpus.
At our count, that's five such uses of the word -- now six -- so far in this story! With it being such a universal word, can anyone really "own" it? The Ohio State University might try.
It filed a trademark application for the word "the" last week, claiming it would be used for clothing -- primarily for T-shirts, baseball caps and other apparel. The university even submitted an example of how it already is using the word.
Too much? Maybe -- though there's a chance the university could win its case. There have been other interesting, high-profile trademark filings in recent years you might remember. Here are a few of them:
Facebook takes ownership of 'face'
The social media giant in 2010 took over the trademark application for "Face" from another social company. Gizmodo reported at the time the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allowed Facebook to use the word for its site and services, and anyone else who wanted to start a social media company with the word "face" in it likely would be squashed.
Blue turf gains approval
Ohio State isn't the only university to stake a claim on its image. In 2011, Boise State gained a trademark for "the color blue as applied to artificial turf." And the school wants you to know: No, ducks do not fly into the turf in thinking that it's actually a river.
Look what you made her do
Don't even think about making a T-shirt that says "This Sick Beat" -- unless you want Taylor Swift's squad to come after you. The country-turned-pop singer filed for the phrase from her hit single, "Shake it Off," in October 2014 and now only she can profit from it. And don't try to "Party Like It's 1989" because Swift owns all of that, too.
This one burned Hallmark
The greeting card company created made a pun on Paris Hilton's phrase, "That's hot," that took off during her early-2000s stint as a reality TV star on "The Simple Life." Reuters reported the heiress filed suit in 2007, with Hallmark using free speech as a defense, but the company lost.
Thinking of filing a trademark on your own? The Patent and Trademark Office has a breakdown on its website to walk through the application process but be warned: It recommends hiring an attorney who specializes in trademark law.
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