It is official, OSU and OSU both own OSU. Sound confusing? Let me explain.
In February Ohio State filed to own the exclusive trademark on clothing and apparel for “OSU”. Oklahoma State was obviously not pleased and filed an objection; noting that they already had rights to the acronym.
Previously, the rights to “OSU” were set by geographic lines and boundaries. Ohio State had the rights in 19 Midwest and East Coast states while Oklahoma State had the rights in 17 Western and Southern states, and then Oregon State, yet another OSU, had the North West region of the country.
And, while this agreement was fine 10 or even five years ago, changes in sports have made the former agreement impractical. Conference realignment and streaming has made it easier for the expansion of fan bases from regional hubs to national brands. Under the previous agreement, if Oklahoma State wanted to advertise in New York it could not use the acronym “OSU” in any material, instead having to spell out the university’s name.
Both schools were able to come together and hammer out an agreement that they are both “OSU”. However, they are not allowed to use each other’s color schemes, mascots, or logos. So you will not be seeing any “Oklahoma State Buckeyes” or “Ohio State Cowboys” shirts anytime soon, which I don’t know why you would to begin with.
“The parties believe that there is no likelihood of confusion, mistake, or deception between the continued use and registration of Ohio State OSU Marks and Oklahoma State OSU Marks,” the agreement states.
The agreement also forbids the schools from disparaging each other by claiming the other is a wannabe , or lesser OSU. That’s fairly common. If you have a mutual agreement, you don’t want to be trashing each other.
However, the new agreement, and the new clause, presents an interesting wrinkle to consider. Ohio State is commonly referred to as “the OSU”, or “tOSU” for short. The use of the word “the” implies that they are the only OSU that matters. It implies that all other OSUs are pretenders, or lesser. Don’t expect that to change, though. We reached out to Oklahoma State and confirmed that under the new agreement the University does not object to Ohio State’s use of the word “the”.
“We appreciate Ohio State’s cooperative approach as we reached a long-term agreement that satisfies the needs of both universities,” Gary Shutt, OSU spokesman told the Tulsa World. “This agreement will avoid any confusion for our fans and the public.”
There has been no word on how the Oregon State Beavers (the other-other OSU) feel about the agreement.