In a filing earlier this year, Ohio State University secured trademark designation for the name Woody Hayes from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
While this marks the second Ohio State coach whose name has been trademarked by the university -- Urban Meyer's name was officially registered a year ago -- the need for the designation predates the Meyer registration by many years, said Rick Van Brimmer, director of trademark and licensing services at Ohio State.
"We've been using Woody's image and name on products for years," Van Brimmer said. "But we've had an increasing number of people using our marks. This helps us in the long run."
The use of Hayes' name "started very innocently, with 'Woody' on the back of a hat, which we called 'the Woody Hat' because it was the kind of hat he wore with the block 'O' on the front," Van Brimmer said.
Ohio State sought out the coach's widow, Anne Hayes, to determine what to do about royalties.
"The family has always been wonderful," Van Brimmer said. "They've never received anything. They've directed royalties to Woody Hayes and/or Anne Hayes scholarship funds."
After Mrs. Hayes' death in 1998, the university began talking about royalties with the couple's son, Steven B. Hayes, now retired as a Franklin County Municipal Court judge.
"As Steve and I talked, we realized that nothing was in writing or formalized and we weren't going to live forever," Van Brimmer said. "We realized there was a need to formalize our relationship with the family and how we use the name." The university filed for the trademark on Jan. 27.
The amount of merchandise and royalty cash has "never been huge," Van Brimmer said. "It's been very niche oriented and only in a way that honored Coach Hayes," who died in 1987.
"There have been three different bobbleheads and a couple of non-apparel items. Other than that, it's been limited to use of his face and name on hats or T-shirts."
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