It’s a race to space! Well, to trademark that name actually. The new branch of the military, Space Force – which has been designed to handle space warfare, may have lost trademark rights to a new Netflix show with the same name, Space Force.
Last week, the Hollywood Reporter reported that the satirical Netflix show starring Steve Carell filed for global trademark applications as early as January 2019 (and before the U.S. government). These areas include Mexico, Australia, parts of Europe and other countries.
The U.S Space Force wasn’t officially established until December 2019. And, as of now, it has just a single pending application in the U.S for an “intent to use.” The U.S. operates on a “first-to-use” trademark registration system. Still, it seems as though Netflix would win that battle since they’re currently streaming the show Space Force. Does this mean our U.S. military can lose its trademark to a Netflix show? The chances of that are not likely. Fortunately, trademark law allows for parodies. So even if or when the federal government secures a trademark, the Netflix show would still have the right to use the name. But the issue lies within selling merchandise with the Space Force name. If both the show and military branch were to release clothing (or other merch) consumers might be confused as to who is selling the goods. The U.S. Air Force isn’t too concerned right now and told the Hollywood Reporter, “At this time, we are not aware of any trademark conflicts with the fictional program Space Force produced by Netflix. We wish Netflix and the show’s producers the best in their creative depiction of our nation’s newest branch of the military.”
If a problem was to ensue, we know that the Defense Department would have no problem issuing trademark infringement warnings and lawsuits as it has done in the past with the Golden Knights, a National Hockey League team in Las Vegas, over similar branding.
As of now, all we can do is monitor how this unfolds in the future.
If you have any questions concerning trademark laws, please email me at [email protected] to get your questions answered.
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John Rizvi is a Registered and Board Certified Patent Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property Law, best-selling author, and featured speaker on topics of interest to inventors and entrepreneurs (including TEDx).His books include “Escaping the Gray” and “Think and Grow Rich for Inventors” and have won critical acclaim including an endorsement from Kevin
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