On May 29, 2020, Netflix debuted a new workplace comedy named Space Force. The show, created by and starring The Office’s Steve Carell, satirizes the newly established United States Space Force. The show includes a star-studded cast, including John Malkovich (Of Mice and Men), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), and Fred Willard (Anchorman). Space Force holds the #1 spot on Netflix’s suggestions, even though the show received mixed reviews. Interestingly, Space Force holds another #1 title already – first to file a trademark application, beating the US government in the process.
In December 2019, Congress authorized the creation of a new branch of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Space Force. Before then, the US Space Force formed a subsection of the US Air Force. With Congress’s authorization, the US Space Force became an independent, coequal military branch with the US Air Force.
Before widespread use of the agency’s name, the US government wanted to secure intellectual property rights. As such, in March 2019, the US government filed an intent-to-use trademark application for SPACE FORCE within the clothing class of goods. In addition, in May 2020, the US government filed another intent-to-use SPACE FORCE trademark application. The new application listed vehicles, backpacks, mugs, promotion services, and educational services. Each US government SPACE FORCE trademark application was filed in the United States alone.
Netflix Files the First SPACE FORCE Trademark Applications
However, in January 2019, Netflix filed trademark applications for SPACE FORCE in Australia, Canada, Europe, and Mexico, for entertainment services. In July 2019, Netflix followed up with another SPACE FORCE application in Europe for stationary, clothing, and toys. Similar applications were filed in Australia, Canada, and Mexico in late 2019 and early 2020.
Ultimately, Netflix beat the US government to foreign trademark rights in SPACE FORCE, specifically in Australia, Canada, Europe, and Mexico. Perhaps as a show of good faith, Netflix did not choose to seek registration within the United States. As such, the US government’s trademark applications will likely mature into US trademark registrations. However, the US government will face difficulty expanding trademark rights outside of the United States due to Netflix’s proactive intellectual property policies.