Netflix is beating the US military in the ‘Space Force’ trademark race

In Europe, Mexico, and Australia, Netflix now owns legal rights to the name.


June 10, 2020

Photo: Netflix

A quick word of advice: If you’re going to launch a new military branch, make absolutely sure you own the trademark first. 

In Europe, Australia, and Mexico, Space Force — the Netflix comedy — has quietly won legal rights over the objections of the real US Space Force, the new branch of the Air Force.  

  • The government’s Space Force has been up and running since December 2019 — and it’s currently conducting a series of experiments on how space radiation impacts seeds.
  • Space Force, starring Steve Carell, released its first season at the end of May, and reviewers deemed it an “astonishingly bad show.” (That said, it’s taking off in China.)  

The military is playing catch-up

President Trump first announced a Space Force in March 2018. By January 2019 (way before the series debuted), Netflix had filed its first “Space Force” trademark application, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Only in March 2019 did the Air Force apply to do the same. 

The trademarks are still pending in the US, which relies on a “first-to-use” system. But internationally, where “first-to-file” standards are common, Netflix will probably keep winning.

Your T-shirt profits have never mattered more

Even if it had filed first, the US government would never have been able to block the TV show Space Force. Trademark law allows for parodies.

The real stakes here are about other profits from the name “Space Force.” Say some rando makes a Zazzle T-shirt emblazoned “Space Force.” Who gets to claim the profits? Netflix or the US military? 

At least in Europe, that sweet, sweet Redbubble cash seems bound for Netflix’s pocket.

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