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Things We Saw Today: Who Would Win in a Trademark Battle Over “Space Force”?

Steve Carell in Space Force

Donald Trump getting to use something called “Space Force” has enraged me from the start. As a nerd for all things space-oriented, I hated that he got to do anything even NASA-adjacent, but the fact that he named something SPACE FORCE infuriated me. Luckily, the new Netflix show of the same name has a strong trademark claim. Rejoice.

Trump, in his Trumpian ways, probably doesn’t like the idea of a show a) mocking him and his Space Force or b) potentially making money off of merchandise for the show. While it seems that he currently doesn’t have plans to sue Netflix or the show, he could and he’d probably lose. Again, rejoice.

According to Law & Crime, there is no problem with a show sharing a name with a branch of the military, JAG being a perfect example of that. But merchandise could be where the problem lies and, even then, the Trump administration would still probably lose if they decided to slug it out. For the third time, rejoice.

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.

Very likely, the USPTO would find that Netflix was using the name in January, while the federal government wasn’t truly doing so until the following December. Furthermore, because trademark law allows for parodies and satires, there’s a good chance that Netflix would have the right to use the name even if the federal government secures its trademark

Space Force might not be perfect but at least we have this little bit of joy, right?

(via CBR, image: Netflix)

Here are some other stories we saw out there today:

  • Ten-year-old Nandis Bushell played a one girl version of Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerrilla Radio” to take a stand against racism and it’s iconic. (via Pajiba)
  • Josh Trank says that the studio blocked him from casting a Black actress to play Sue Storm in his Fantastic Four movie, showing a trend of studios blocking the inclusion many audiences and creatives wanted to see. (via Deadline)
  • Actress Katie Leung, who brought Cho Chang to life in the Harry Potter series, is speaking out in support of trans lives after J.K. Rowling’s tweets. (via HuffPost)
  • Michael B. Jordan took to his Black Lives Matter speech to call out Hollywood, calling for stories from Black creatives and a general increase in the hiring of Black performers. (via ScreenRant)

Anything we missed out there, Mary Suevians? Let us know in the comments below!

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Rachel is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, and wants Robert Downey Jr. to release a new album. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. At least she gets to live in New York City though!