“Alien Con will be supported across all HISTORY® platforms, with [a] promotional campaign featuring sweepstakes, affiliate tie-ins, social media extensions and sponsorships,” a press release republished on Bleeding Cool and other websites stated.
What I found most interesting, though, is that in their trademark application A+E Networks accidentally revealed how little stock they put into the supposed historical basis of their own flagship property. Their trademark is meant to cover use of the name “Alien Con” for “arranging and conducting conferences and expositions in the field of science fiction and extraterrestrials.” Note the wording, approved by the company’s attorneys, that prioritizes science fiction above extraterrestrials, and which seems to view both as part of one field. While it is of course a fool’s errand to read too much into a legal document, it does seem to indicate that the powers that be see Ancient Aliens as a form of science-based entertainment, more or less indistinguishable from science fiction.
Compare this wording to how Prometheus Entertainment, the production company that produces Ancient Aliens, described the TV series in its April 2009 application to trademark the name Ancient Aliens for the pilot movie for the series: Back then it was said to cover “non-fiction documentary subject matter regarding historical landmarks, cultures, artifacts and phenomena and possible connections to the influence of visits to Earth by extraterrestrial life forms.” A+E Networks purchased the trademark to both the pilot movie and the TV series, and afterward they began brand extensions that all but abandoned the original rationale.
Why might that be? The answer probably comes to use form a January 29, 2016 filing in which A+E Networks revealed its plans to make Ancient Aliens into an explicitly science fiction brand. In a filing of that date, A+E asked for approval to use the Ancient Aliens name for a “series of fiction works, including novels and books.”
But that’s not all! In March, they filed an additional request to restrict the use of the Ancient Aliens name for the following list of products:
IC 021. US 002 013 023 029 030 033 040 050. G & S: Household and kitchen utensils and containers; china, namely, ornaments, decorative centerpieces, figures, plaques, and sculptures; cups and mugs; glassware, porcelain and earthenware for tabletops, namely, beverage ware, serving platters, mugs, jars, plaques, figures and decorative centerpieces; dishes, bowls, plates, mugs, drinking glasses, figurines of china, crystal, earthenware, glass, porcelain, terra cotta, plastic and stained glass; ice buckets
IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Clothing, namely, t-shirts, sweatshirts, denim jackets, jeans, pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, shirts, blouses, sweaters, sweat jackets, sweat pants, sweat suits, sweat shorts, swim wear, socks, gloves, scarves, under garments, outerwear, namely, jackets and coats; footwear; headgear, namely, headwear, caps, scarves and sweatbands; belts
IC 028. US 022 023 038 050. G & S: Bobblehead dolls; toys, namely, action figure toys, bath toys, construction toys, electric action toys, modeled plastic toy figurines, pull toys, stuffed toys, toy action figures and accessories therefor, toy cars, toy weapons and water toys; board games; games, namely, card games, electronic games for the teaching of children and party games
For comparison’s sake, I reviewed some other History Channel properties whose names A+E Networks own to see if they received the same treatment. History’s Pawn Stars had some products trademarked in 2012, but this year they have only a line of keychains. American Pickers put in this spring for a line of glassware (probably shot glasses) and selected clothing items, specifically sweatshirts and jackets, but these were renewals of earlier efforts from 2012, which back then included a failed American Pickers video game. The Curse of Oak Island has no trademarked merchandise or events. A+E Networks did not bother to trademark the name Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar, so feel free to use that one!
In short, A+E Networks treats Ancient Aliens very differently from History’s other shows in terms of aggressively merchandizing it and expanding its reach far beyond television. It’s hard not to see this in a cynical light,. The fact that they are not simply “giving the public what they want” on TV but are actively and aggressively evangelizing for an ancient astronaut theory they seem unable to distinguish from outright science fiction is disheartening and also more than a little disturbing.