In May, Netflix premiered the comedy “Space Force,” which is based on the new branch of the military launched by President Donald Trump.  The streaming service has reportedly obtained the trademark rights for the name before the federal government.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show secured trademark rights to “Space Force” in multiple places, including Europe, Australia and Mexico, while the Air Force owns only a pending application for registration in the United States. That means the show has more confirmed trademark rights than the U.S. military.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office usually grants trademarks based on a “first-to-use” system, and Netflix filed for the trademark as early as January.

This has led some to speculate that Netflix and the federal government may end up in court, as the military services have become more protective over their logos.

For years, the federal government seemed asleep at the trademark wheel. Then, in 2007, it became considerably more aggressive. After the Department of Defense issued a directive, the Marines started shutting down Zazzle and CafePress for printing things with military logos, and imposing rules on Etsy sellers who did the same.

The question of whether the federal government would aggressively seek to protect and then license “Space Force” is especially interesting given that we’re talking about the Trump Administration. Many have opined that Donald Trump’s sole talent as a businessman is to create a brand and subsequently license the hell out of that brand for profit. Whether that’s the official administration position with regard to Netflix remains to be seen.

If the federal government and Netflix do end up tangling over trademark usage, it will come down to timing and nature of Netflix’s usage. Space Force was announced by Trump in March 2018, and then officially established as a formal organization in December 2019. Netflix greenlit the 10-episode series in January 2019, immediately submitted trademark applications for “Space Force,” and began streaming the show in May 2020. In March 2019, The Air Force applied to register the name for use on clothing, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hasn’t made a determination. Netflix secured some international trademark rights in Europe, Australia, and Mexico — where trademark laws function differently.

I have no desire to watch the Netflix program. It is a bit light on the real humor necessary for a good comedy.

I predict the actual Space Force will be much more successful, especially as the service exceeded its goal for volunteers…by 1,500 applications.

More than 8,500 active-duty airmen applied to join the U.S. Space Force during the month of May, the service announced on June 9.

Applicants include a mix of officers and enlisted personnel from 13 career fields.

The number of applicants is larger than what the Space Force had projected. Officials said they were anticipating about 7,000 would volunteer to give up their commission in the Air Force and transfer to the U.S. Space Force.

The response reflects the enthusiasm in the ranks about the opportunity to serve in the newest branch of the military, said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force. These men and women “made the bold decision to volunteer to join the U.S. Space Force and defend the ultimate high ground,” he said in a statement.

Approximately 16,000 military and civilians from the former U.S. Air Force Space Command are now assigned to the Space Force. The transfer process will officially commission or enlist military members into the Space Force.

 

 
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