Trademark Law

Netflix obtains foreign trademark rights to 'Space Force' before US government

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Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Netflix has secured some foreign trademark rights to the phrase “Space Force”—which is also the name of its new comedy series starring Steve Carell—ahead of the U.S. government.

Netflix has obtained trademark rights in Europe, Australia, Mexico and elsewhere, the Hollywood Reporter reports in a story noted by the Hill.

The U.S. Air Force does have a pending trademark application based on intent to use in the United States. And even though the country operates on a “first-to-use” trademark registration system, where priority is based on actual use in commerce rather than who gets to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office first, many other countries operate on a “first-to-file” basis, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

There should be no problem over Netflix’s use of the name for the show Space Force, since trademark law allows for parodies, according to the Hollywood Reporter. But trademark rights could become important if Netflix and the U.S. government begin selling similar products.

Any disputes over trademark rights in the United States could favor Netflix, according to, which covers live court video, high-profile criminal trials and celebrities.

Netflix approved the series in January 2019 and immediately submitted trademark applications. The Air Force applied to register the name for use on clothing in March 2019. It wasn’t until December 2019 that the Trump administration officially established the Space Force as an organization.

“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,” according to

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