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I just got a letter from LOTS saying that their USSF Rocket Fuel Tank Car was cancelled.  The reason given that the licensing program changed to become more burdensome to attain along with the inability to use the Space Force seal and logo in any case.

Too bad,this car would have been a great car to have.


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Never heard that Government Agencies own their logos and trademarks.

Our taxes paid for them.

Unless you are using them for unlawful purposes, it would seem that there cannot be an infringement claimed.

Generally, federal government works “for the people” and is funded by the people.  As such, they are not allowed to own or hold copyright protection and go around suing everyone for use of images created by the government or its employees. 

Looking at NASA; If the NASA material is to be used for commercial purposes, especially including advertisements, it must not explicitly or implicitly convey NASA's endorsement of commercial goods or services.

I would think the same would be true for Space Force.  So dont say that Space Force is endorsing the model.

[ there is an exception for state and local governments that for some reason are allowed to own copyrights.]

Alan, copyrights and trademarks are entirely different things and subject to different legal regimes.

Expressive works - which are the subject of copyright - created by the federal government are placed in the public domain. But "Space Force" is not a work of expression; it identifies an entity and thus can serve as a mark. There is no bar to the federal government holding trademarks.

Although a mark must be "used in commerce" to receive trademark protection; we might question whether an arm of the military is really engaging in "commerce" under the "Space Force" name.

And we might further question whether any mark - whether it's "Space Force" or "Union Pacific" - is really going to cause any confusion about connection with the entity when used on a model train. If consumers do not believe there is any connection between the model train and the military branch, or the transportation company, then there would not be trademark infringement. In which case no license is necessary.


It's true! The LOTS USSF Rocket Fuel Tank Car was canceled and refund checks are on the way to all those who placed orders. For those who ordered, if you do not receive your refund check by the end of the year, please let me know.

We are truly saddened that we had to cancel the order with Lionel, but the rules have recently changed regarding the use of "Military Service marks." See this link if you want to learn and discover more information. 

We appreciate the support and interest of all members and friends of LOTS!  Watch for a couple new limited edition offerings, rolling down the track in the near future!

Blessings for good health and prosperity to all this holiday season!


Paula Smith
LOTS Business Manager

I read through the DOD licensing agreements, and what it boils down to is they want to control how those service marks are used. The big thing (which doesn't apply to the Space Force Tank Car) is they want to make sure that a commercial entity isn't using it to imply some sort of endorsement (hence they want disclaimers when someone is given permission, saying they aren't in any way connected to the military branch and this is not an endorsement). The other thing is obvious, there are products, like for example political merchandise like T shirts and so forth, they don't want the service marks on for the same reason, implying they endorse the politician/political cause. Then there is the other one, use that they may consider negative on the service, like being on bottles of booze, toilet paper, etc (the way sadly the American Flag is used).

BTW it isn't just military, the seal of the president of the US is the same way, it is supposed to only be used for the sitting president of the US, no one else can use it.

It isn't about licensing in terms of money, it is about making sure the military is not being used to potentially endorse something or promote the idea the military branch thinks a product or politician is worthy of their endorsement. Politicians for example cannot use the service mark in their campaign ads to promote their service in a branch.

I can't entirely blame them, seeing how things are misused and abused, it is a valid concern especially these days.

I am sure it isn't an easy process, and given LOTS is not exactly a huge corporation with lawyers chained and at the ready, I can understand why they had to cancel this. It is sad that a customized toy train that is in the end trying to promote something positive would face this crud. It isn't about money, the military couldn't charge anything for use of the logo (that would be a violation) other than maybe a filing fee for processing the request, it is really about protecting the image of the service.

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