Possible dispute for the registration of the trademark “SPACE FORCE”: United States Armed Forces versus Netflix.
On May 29, 2020, the series “Space Force” debuted on the entertainment giant Netflix, a comedy starring Steve Carell that satirizes the new homonymous space force presented by US President Donald Trump in order to take over military operations in outer space.
However, on May 20, 2020, the United States Department of the Air Force (DAF) filed an application for the word mark “SPACE FORCE”, before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in order to protect the “Space Force” mark. The application was filed in an “intent-to-use” basis, which is normally required when the trademark is not yet being used in the market to identify the encompassed goods and services.
Although, for the moment, it does not appear in the USPTO’s database any application for the same trademark filed in the name of Netflix, there is information that the entertainment company has been using the expression “SPACE FORCE” since at least January 2019, when the production of the series begun. The previous use of the expression by Netflix could be an issue for DAF, since in the United States the first to make commercial use of the trademark in the market is prioritized and not who first files an application.
Therefore, a possible conflict between the public agency and the entertainment company may occur if Netflix files an application before USPTO to identify goods or services that conflict with those identified by DAF, with the presentation of evidence that the trademark was already in use in the American market prior to the application filed by US Armed Forces.