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January 02, 2019

Penn State wants to trademark the term ‘Happy Valley’

The school filed the trademark application last month

Trademarks Universities
Old Main Penn State Screenshot/Google Street View

Old Main on Penn State's State College campus.

Most people associate Penn State with the pleasantly-nicknamed area of Happy Valley, and now the school wants to make things official.

Penn State filed a trademark application for the term “Happy Valley” on Dec. 4, according to the Centre Daily Times, after the previous owner of the trademark did not renew the registration.

The filing says the intent is to “use the moniker on officially licensed head wear, shirts and sweatshirts,” per the Daily Times.

According to a spokeswoman for the school, Penn State wants to protect the term from “improper use” of Happy Valley by third parties.

“For example, not allowing a vendor to tie the term with the promotion of excessive drinking,” Penn State spokeswoman Rachel Pell told the Daily Times.

(Because trademarking “Happy Valley” will definitely be what manages to break the stigma of that area and excessive drinking.)

According to the school’s website, the origin of the name “Happy Valley” is unclear: 

“There seems to have been some local usage as early as the 1950s, but the term apparently became far more widely used and recognized starting in the late 1960s, about the time when network telecasts of Nittany Lions football games began, and thus might be attributed to sports writers and broadcasters.”

How the copyright would affect third parties currently using the term is unclear. As the Daily Times noted, several stores in State College sell “Happy Valley” merchandise right now.

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