“The” Ohio State University and the Trademark Protection of Cultural Identity

By Andrew McClain Adams

College football season is upon us, and The Ohio State University is in the hunt for the playoffs. As good as they have been on the field, the school’s first win came before the season started. In June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Ohio State an unusual trademark: the word “The.”

For those unfamiliar with Ohio State, the attempt to claim ownership of a definite article may seem absurd, but the word “The” holds a special place in the heart of Buckeyes everywhere. While it has been a part of the school’s name since 1878, the university made a push in the 1980s to emphasize the word “The” as part of the college’s brand and to distinguish it from other OSU colleges such as Oregon State University and Oklahoma State University.  Since then, the word has appeared on Ohio State merchandise, promotional materials, and is emphasized in the pre-game introductions of Buckeyes competing in professional sports. The school’s first application for the trademark was denied, since the USPTO was skeptical that the word was being used as an indication of source, but their second attempt was approved after demonstrating the sheer amount of marketing and advertising they had poured into creating a link between the word and the Ohio State brand.

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Transforming Transformative Use: A Synopsis of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith

KimberMarie, a white woman with brown hair, wears a white shirt and green jacket and is smiling.By KimberMarie Faircloth

On October 12, 2022, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.(AWF) vs. Lynn Goldsmith, et al.[1] The main issue revolves around “transformative” use under the Copyright Act[2] and how transformative the work must be to be protected by the doctrine of Fair Use and not infringe another’s copyright.[3] In 1994, the Supreme Court considered a case regarding transformative use, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., in which the Court held that 2 Live Crew’s parody on Roy Orbison’s song, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” was protected under fair use and that the lower court erred in finding otherwise because they solely looked at the commercial nature without weighing the other fair use factors.[4] The Court also defined “transformative” as “add[ing] something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with [a] new expression, meaning, or message.”[5] The more a work transforms the original, the less the other fair use factors will weigh in the analysis because transforming a work emphasizes “the heart of the fair use doctrine’s guarantee of breathing space within the confines of copyright.”[6] Transformative use also came up in 2020 with Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc., where the Court found Google’s use of a portion of code from the Sun Java API, a computer program using Java programming language, to be “new” and “transformative” enough to constitute fair use.[7]

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Making Attorney Self-Care an Atomic Habit

Ashley Banks is a young woman with golden brown hair and brown eyes. She is pictured smiling against a black background, and she is wearing a red shirt and a black blazer. By Ashley Banks

As legal professionals, we dedicate significant time and energy to improving our practice, our knowledge, our business. But how much time do we devote to improving the way we care for ourselves? When is the last time you reviewed your self-care routine, implemented new self-care strategies, or set time aside for self-care planning? If you’re like me, your self-care routine may benefit from a well-designed system — James Clear’s Atomic Habits system.

Self-Care is Key for Legal Professionals, But it is Not Our Forte

As advocates serving others in a myriad of ways, our profession is notorious for disregarding the well-established principle of “fitting our own oxygen mask first.” But, it’s because we are advocates serving others in a myriad of ways that fitting our own oxygen mask first is so critical.

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