posted 03-04-2019 11:27 PM
There is something odd going on with the patch for the shuttle-era Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Sustaining Engineering Pressurized Carriers Group.
The patch's design plays off the names of the MPLM modules being the same as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — both were named after the Italian artists (the MPLMs were provided to NASA by the Italian Space Agency).
Like other NASA patches featuring cartoon characters, the patch design is not in the public domain. At the time of its creation, the MPLM patch was copyright of Mirage Studios, the company behind the TMNT comic books. (It is not clear if the rights for the patch were transferred in 2009, when Viacom purchased the TMNT characters from Mirage.)
As a copyrighted design, the MPLM patch was limited to internal NASA use.
Unauthorized knock offs are nothing new and a few attempts at such have shown up over the years. And if that was all that was behind the recent sale of more than 100 patches on eBay, there would be nothing to write about here.
But then AB Emblem listed the patch on its "Lost in Space" page as "very limited" and sold out of their supply on Monday (March 4). With the exception of the occasional mistake, AB Emblem usually stays clear of the knock-off market and respects copyrights.
So what is going on here? The AB Emblem patch (at top right) differs from the patches on eBay (bottom row) and the original art (top left), lacking the "NASA/MSFC" inscription and in the thread colors chosen. All of the patches are described as 5 inches in diameter and fully embroidered.