space force trademark

The general consensus surrounding Netflix’s new comedy series Space Force is that it’s just not very good. Audiences and critics alike seem disappointed at Steve Carell’s return to TV comedy, but whatever the show lacks in quality it might make up for in…litigation. Because it looks like the real Space Force might lose its trademark to the fictional one.

The real Space Force was first announced in March 2018, and quickly became a punchline. Netflix seized on this, promptly getting to work on a Space Force TV series meant to send-up the real deal. And while the actual Space Force may have come first, THR says: “the streaming giant has outmaneuvered the U.S. government to secure trademark rights to Space Force in Europe, Australia, Mexico and elsewhere,” while the Air Force “merely owns a pending application for registration inside the United States based on an intent to use. Meaning that the feds have gotten a place in line but no confirmed trademark rights thus far.”

In Netflix’s Space Force, “A decorated pilot with dreams of running the Air Force, four-star general Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell) is thrown for a loop when he finds himself tapped to lead the newly formed sixth branch of the US Armed Forces: Space Force. Skeptical but dedicated, Mark uproots his family and moves to a remote base in Colorado where he and a colorful team of scientists and Spacemen are tasked by the White House with getting American boots on the moon (again) in a hurry and achieving total space dominance.”

Meanwhile, the actual Space Force describes itself as “a military service that organizes, trains, and equips space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force. USSF responsibilities include developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands.”

Of course, very few people are going to confuse a poorly received TV comedy with a real branch of the military, but still, it’s amusing to note that Netflix beat the real thing to the punch. Plus, there’s no telling what the Department of Defense might do. As THR adds:

But aggression on the trademark front hasn’t been a hallmark of the Department of Defense under President Trump — and the best place to find proof of that may be with respect to Netflix’s “Space Force” trademark registrations. Although the United States operates on what’s called a “first-to-use” trademark registration system, where priority is based on actual use in commerce rather than who gets to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office first, many other countries operate on a “first-to-file” basis. Records show that Netflix was submitting applications for “Space Force” around the world as early as January 2019. In other words, the Department of Defense was caught sleeping.

The First Amendment should, in theory, protect Netflix from any legal action. But that’s not to say the DOD still won’t try. After the last three-plus years of the Trump administration, nothing is really surprising anymore.

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