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Penn State Officially Owns ‘We Are Penn State’ Trademark

Although everyone who’s anyone knows “We Are” is Penn State’s thing, it’s finally official.

Penn State is now the legal trademark owner of “We Are Penn State,” according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database. The university filed a trademark request for the slogan in November 2019 and received an approved registration on June 30.

Under the trademark, Penn State may use the slogan in a myriad of ways, including in its educational services such as classrooms and campuses, during athletic events, and on merchandise such as hats and t-shirts.

“‘We Are Penn State'” has been used by Penn State for decades. With its continued and spirited use over time, it only made sense for the University to protect the phrase at the federal level for the broadest protection of it,” Penn State spokesperson Wyatt DuBois said. “As we observed other parties using the term ‘We Are’ more frequently, we were concerned with it becoming diluted in its use and didn’t want to ever be challenged for our use of it.”

In October 2019, the office granted Penn State a trademark for “Happy Valley,” which allows its use on commercial merchandise. Upon its filing, the university noted it would not charge local businesses who currently use the slogan in their branding.

Penn State isn’t the first university to file trademarks for its iconic mottos and mantras, but it’s one of the few to be successful. Last fall, Ohio State attempted to trademark the word “the” (as in The Ohio State University) but received a rejection. The office said the Buckeyes’ attempted trademark couldn’t distinguish itself from other uses of the three-character word.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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