In a twist that feels straight out of a sitcom, the US government has reportedly had global trademark rights for its new 'Space Force' swiped from right under its nose – by none other than the Netflix comedy of the same name.
In case you've been living under an asteroid, the real Space Force is a new branch of the Armed Forces dedicated to, er, space. According to Popular Mechanics, Netflix began submitting applications for 'Space Force' in January 2019, long before the US Department of Defence. As a result, Netflix, whose parody series premiered on 29 May, now own rights to the official Space Force logo (below) in Europe, Australia, and Mexico and more.
Conversely, the US government merely owns a pending application for rights to the logo in the US itself. Just goes to show it's not just the quality of your logo that matters (even if its one of the best logos of all time) – rights are equally important.
In practice, this might not be a huge issue for the American government – US copyright law (opens in new tab) allows duplicate trademarks to coexist, as long as they're in "completely unrelated" fields. Nobody is likely to confuse a comedy show about a Space Force with an actual Space Force.
Things could get more complicated, though, when it comes to merchandise. As The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) says, if the logo ends up on an item of clothing, "who’s selling? The U.S. military or Netflix?". Basically, if the real Space Force decides to branch out into T-shirts, things could start to get messy.
Branding-wise, the US Space Force has had a rather turbulent time. When the logo was first revealed this January, its similarity to Star Trek's Starfleet logo caused a furore online. Its Netflix namesake has had an equally rough ride, with some abysmal reviews (The Verge called it "an astonishingly bad show") – the show may have been aiming for the stars, but reviewers haven't been quick to hand them out.
Trump just announced the new logo for the Space Force. The other is Star Trek Starfleet Command. pic.twitter.com/S7NeYdjR4CJanuary 24, 2020
If you're looking for logo inspiration, our logo design guide will teach you everything you need to know before embarking on a brand identity project. Just make sure you get it trademarked.