Space Force: United States Military May Have Lost Trademark to Netflix Series

With Hollywood temporarily on hold due to a global pandemic, Netflix's Space Force came along at an opportune time, giving cinephiles and those stuck in quarantine something new to watch. As it turns out, the streaming giant may have beaten someone major – the branch of the military the series is named after – to the punch in the land of trademarks and copyrights. As evidenced by a new profile of the show on behalf of THR over the weekend, Netflix has already secured trademarks for the show in several international territories, including much of Europe, Australia, and Mexico. Stateside, however, it's a much different story – the United States Air Force has the only trademark application on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

"At this time, we are not aware of any trademark conflicts with the fictional program Space Force produced by Netflix," one Air Force spokesperson told the trade. "We wish Netflix and the show's producers the best in their creative depiction of our nation's newest branch of the military."

Should it come down to it, legal experts suggest Netflix would beat the United States Military in a trademark battle. The trademark office operates on a "first-to-use" basis, which means the entity which uses a name in commerce first has priority over a trademark claim, regardless of when the trademark application is filed. There's evidence that Netflix began using the trademark in certain markets as early as January 2019, long before the United States government officially assigned a name to the branch of the military.

"Here, the branch is so new, and the executive branch so commercialized, and the commander in chief so attention-seeking, that I'm not sure we can know quite what to expect," attorney Ed Timberlake said.

Shortly after Space Force officially hit Netflix, the series raced to #1 on the platform. When we spoke with series co-creator Greg Daniels earlier this year, the writer suggested the series could be successful due to its movie-quality visual effects and visual appeal. "Yeah, I think it's more cinematic than The Office and Parks and Rec, as the subject matter is the whole branch of the armed forces and this mission," Daniels told us. "It depends. I mean, I think you'll find a little bit similar, but it's also just on a bigger scale. That's a good question."

He added, "I mean, there are some similarities and there are some differences. It looks more like a movie than a documentary. But on the other hand, it's also a character comedy, which is similar."

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Space Force is now streaming on Netflix.

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