The Pennsylvania State University

After decades of use, The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was officially granted a federal trademark registration on its iconic cheer WE ARE PENN STATE. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the application was filed in November of 2019 and covers shirts, hats, and educational services, including Penn State’s graduate and undergraduate courses.

Brief History of WE ARE PENN STATE

Known around the country, the iconic cheer has become a source of school pride and a symbol of Penn State and its values. As iconic as Penn State’s Nittany Lion mascot, WE ARE PENN STATE was born out of an intense rivalry between schools. The slogan was first used by Penn State’s cheerleaders in the 70s. In its early stages, the cheerleaders would routinely shout WE ARE, with no response to follow. However, after a rocky start with its adoption, WE ARE PENN STATE finally took off like wildfire. To this day, as with many college cheers, when the words WE ARE are heard, people around the world will return PENN STATE without hesitation.

Other Successful College Cheers

Michigan State University

Similar to that of Penn State, Michigan State University (Michigan State) has also trademarked its own iconic cheer, and slogan GO GREEN GO WHITE. Known around the world, whenever GO GREEN is spoken, a quick and boisterous GO WHITE is sure to follow. Born around the same time that Penn State began using its cheer, Michigan State found its. However, like Penn State, it was only until recently in April of 2016 that Michigan State was granted its trademark registration. Michigan State’s trademark registration for GO GREEN GO WHITE encompasses dresses, headwear, scarves, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and educational services at the university level.

Resitance for The Ohio State

The Ohio State University

While both Michigan State and Penn State were successful in their recent attempts to register their iconic slogan, the USPTO has provided resistance for The Ohio State University (Ohio State). In August of 2019, Ohio State filed a trademark application for the word THE for clothing, namely t-shirts, baseball caps, and hats. However, shortly after filing, Ohio State received an office action rejecting the application. In particular, the USPTO rejected Ohio State’s application for being confusingly similar to a prior-filed application and for failing to function as a trademark, stating that the mark was merely ornamental.


While several Universities, including Penn State and Michigan State, have successfully acquired trademark protection several others have encountered resistance. With the recent uptick in Universities filing for trademarks, it will be interesting to see the outcome of the Ohio State application and future filings down the road that are sure to follow.