Three years after Ohio University, located in Athens, registered Ohio as an official trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Ohio State filed a petition with that agency, saying that Ohio shouldn't belong to any individual entity. The recently-filed suit has little to do with on-the-field competition since the Bobcats (enrollment 18,000) rarely face the Buckeyes (enrollment 52,000). Rather, it has to do with—surprise!—money.
Ohio State is being deprived of marketing opportunities because, as it now stands, only Ohio University can use just plain Ohio on uniforms and apparel. Granted, Ohio State still pulls in about $2 million per year in trademark licensing revenue, some $1.9 million more than Ohio University. But allowing anyone to trademark Ohio, claims the Big Ten school, is wrong.
The smaller school has precedent on its side. Ohio U, founded in 1804, has been referred to as Ohio from the beginning. The Columbus school (established in 1870) was first known as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College and recognized as Ohio State only after it was renamed as such in 1878. Further, schools such as Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania have all registered names without complaint from in-state rivals.
Ohio State also opposes Ohio's application to register a logo that features an attacking Bobcat and a green and white Ohio. Ohio University's compromise—that Ohio State can keep the name Ohio Stadium and continue to perform the Script Ohio, its renowned marching band formation—was turned down.
Ohio State's petition may not be heard for two or three years, but weep not for the Buckeyes. Among their registered trademarks are Ohio State, OSU, O'State and, yikes, the letter O.