Alien Con: A+E Networks and the History Channel Want You to Live the "Ancient Aliens" Lifestyle
When I reviewed the season premiere of Ancient Aliens late Friday night, which is now S11E01 instead of S09E01 thanks to History renumbering the episodes from their original broadcast seasons for DVD release, I briefly noted that a commercial airing during the show advertised the upcoming Alien Con, a “next level entertainment experience” devoted to celebrating the ancient astronaut theory alongside science fiction and horror entertainment. As I mentioned at the time, the convention is a joint function of A+E Networks, the parent of the History Channel, and Cosmic Con, a division of Famous Monsters of Filmland, the horror and science fiction entertainment magazine. I was able to research some additional information about the convention, and it’s rather interesting what it reveals about how A+E Networks views its cash cow program.
According to a filing A+E Networks made with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Alien Con is a registered trademark of A+E Networks, the sole owner of the name. They filed the trademark application on January 29 of this year. I wonder what Famous Monsters gets out of the deal if they don’t own the intellectual property behind the conference?
“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
A filing does not require the applicant to manufacture all of these products, but I think you can see where they are heading with this. They see Ancient Aliens as a complete lifestyle brand. I am especially disturbed by the implication that they might create toys and “games for the teaching of children” aimed at impressionable youths. They have a separate trademark filing for computer and video games, so this doesn’t refer to the Ancient Aliens online game. If I had to guess, I would think they would probably make action figures based on various ancient gods, but not necessarily. Imagine your son or daughter playing with a genuine David Wilcock inaction figure: Thrill as he sits in one place and speculates madly! Engage in exciting adventures with your David Childress figurine as he stays motionless and stares into your soul!
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.
5/8/2016 09:58:39 am
5/8/2016 03:00:49 pm
Would you buy a used car from a company named "Cosmic Con"?
5/8/2016 11:35:19 am
1. Duck Dynasty is probably the best comparison of what they want to do for a different market (but I can't imagine it will work). They marketed the hell out of that as a lifestyle, which is far closer to the nature of the show than AA. That said, I think one thing to think about might be the non-US market. If I had to guess, I'd expect that Ancient Aliens as a brand would probably do better outside the US.
5/8/2016 11:47:46 am
5/8/2016 03:37:25 pm
I'm concerned that the Giorgio Tsoukalos "Real Growing Hair" action figure is going to have legal trouble with Thomas Dam from Denmark, inventor of the Troll doll (actually named Dam Doll), for intellectual property theft.
5/8/2016 07:31:50 pm
Perhaps they could use a Chia pet.
David Childress' Neckfat
5/9/2016 03:05:54 pm
I'd be far more interested in the David Wilcock Brand Hair Plugs (TM).
5/8/2016 12:23:16 pm
They missed one product, which in my view, has unlimited market possibilities. Ancient Aliens toilet paper, I can see wiping my ass with the faces of David Childress and Graham Hancock.
5/8/2016 12:33:34 pm
The only interesting writing here is when you write what the people on ancient aliens say. No one but you and anonymous followers care what you think. You are a sad curmudgeon with nothing of value to offer humanity. The waste of electrons spilled in your boring verbage is the cause of global warming.
5/8/2016 01:20:22 pm
You care, too, hef. If you didn't, you wouldn't contribute to global warming by wasting electrons to share your opinion on this blog.
5/8/2016 01:57:38 pm
Only Me is not a troll
5/8/2016 01:39:18 pm
I don't think I'm anonymous !
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
5/8/2016 02:50:29 pm
Do I have to bring up Jason's research on the Nephilim/Watchers/pillars/pyramids again?
5/8/2016 08:56:59 pm
You are right. This string of meaningless and inane articles was and is a complete waste. Losers always continue to bang their head against a wall even when they finally understand that it is their own behavior causing the problem. Lots of losers in here. The only person who consistently makes sense is time machine.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
5/8/2016 11:12:45 pm
Studying the history of ideas is "causing the problem"? I had no idea historical research was a major cause of global warming. Unless "the problem" you're talking about now is something different. You're not exactly a paragon of clarity.
5/10/2016 10:49:24 am
Look at "hef's" writing style and vocabulary. It's just Bobo (Time Machine, et al) pretending he has a fanboy. Troll fantasies. :D
5/9/2016 01:32:51 am
Gee, you know Hef, no one is making you read these posting or comments. If you so dislike them, then why don't you do something you find more useful and enjoyable, like touching yourself or peeing off an overpass.
5/9/2016 06:05:43 pm
Actually what Ancient Alien boosters say is not that interesting given that it is little more than regurgitations of the same old tired crap most of which is over 50 years old and some of it more than a century. And of course occasionally listening to lies, fabrications, and distortions can be amusing in small doses but in large amounts like on Ancient Aliens it is boring. And of course the promoters of Ancient Alien woo are offering nothing of value to anyone but are very good at extracting from the gullible their money to land in their bank accounts.
5/8/2016 12:37:26 pm
It is strange to think that if Chris Dunne had not taken ill in Egypt, it is highly unlikely that Ancient Aliens would have seen production at all.
5/8/2016 02:14:09 pm
I thought AA was supposed to avoid sensational advertising, and that its public relations policy was based on attraction rather than promotion.
5/10/2016 08:50:13 am
They're powerless and unmanageable in that regard.
5/8/2016 03:16:59 pm
Isn't explicitly changing the AA franchise mission from 'maybe true history' to 'science fiction' throwing all the true believers under the bus? How will Graham Hancock and David Childress respond to being called "science fiction writers"?
5/8/2016 06:24:26 pm
I would think Childress would roll with it, but Hancock has been very critical of Ancient Aliens lately, and I'm sure this won't help.
5/9/2016 09:26:35 pm
Actually Graham Hancock does write material he clearly labels as fiction, but which is clearly derived from the kind of things he publishes as fact.
5/8/2016 06:18:24 pm
As an SF author, I find myself somewhat conflicted by the bunching of Ancient Aliens (and current ones as well) within the science fiction genre.
5/9/2016 07:44:56 am
You just can't beat the 1956 film "Forbidden Planet" - inner space in outer space.
David Childress' Neckfat
5/9/2016 03:11:38 pm
I have a trailer, several teeth and a 6th grade edumacation...I think I'm already living the Ancient Aliens lifestyle.
5/9/2016 05:27:27 pm
Your probably are too intelligent for the Ancient Alien lifestyle. I would suggest running for congress instead.
10/30/2016 03:32:48 pm
Hey, if it works for them, more power to them! ya gotta do what ya gotta do to survive in this world! As for the copyright, you don't only file to sell those items it is also to keep others from selling them and profiting on your copyright! Also, of course they have to say "science fiction" you can't legally call it factual truth because we don't really have the truth do we? So, of course, they have to call it "fiction". Not everyone that goes to these things or is interested in ufos are toothless hillbillies, (no offense) just those that feel there is more to the universe than we know!
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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