Netflix snapped up the Space Force trademark before the U.S. government

It’s all fun and games until someone makes merch.

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Greg Daniels, The Office showrunner, was quick to craft a narrative around Donald Trump’s Space Force. Netflix worked even faster to cover its legal bases for its show, Space Force, grabbing trademarks for “Space Force” in the U.S. and abroad, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Nearly a year before the U.S. Space Force was officially established, Netflix beat the military to the punch on the branding rights. Which is kind of embarrassing for the Trump administration which has been vocal in its enthusiasm for a space-focused equivalent of a military force, but also undeniably hilarious, and very in keeping with the generally insane tone set by the events of 2020 thus far.

As it stands, Netflix is in the clear to use "Space Force" under First Amendment protections, even if the U.S. government secures its own trademark for the term. Netflix also reportedly holds the trademark rights in Europe, Australia, Mexico, and other countries. Each of which is, admittedly, less likely to suggest creating a militarized extraterrestrial body.

It all comes down to merch — In other countries, trademark laws tend to go by the filing date, so the U.S. likely won’t stand a chance with international legal battles. In the U.S., trademarks generally stick to the first entity to use it, the first true instance of which would be for merchandise. Currently, it’s easy to tell the difference between the military and Netflix’s use of the term. With merch, the question becomes “Is it a Space Force t-shirt or a Space Force t-shirt?”

Trump is allegedly a businessman, so the consumerism aspect of this could pique his interest, but the military isn’t too concerned. An Air Force spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter: “At this time, we are not aware of any trademark conflicts with the fictional program Space Force produced by Netflix,” and “We wish Netflix and the show’s producers the best in their creative depiction of our nation’s newest branch of the military.”

Steve Carell stars in Netflix's new workplace comedy set in space.Netflix

Pity the show sucks — It would be even funnier if Space Force the TV show was an outstanding and instant cult classic, destined for multiple seasons and spinoffs, and likely to sell its merchandise in droves to a hoard of rabid fans. Sadly, though, the show is pretty dismal. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has it scoring 40 percent, which isn't just dismal by Netflix Original series' standard, but by any shows standards. Netflix should make the T-shirts anyway, though. We'd buy one just in case it annoyed you know who.