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MARPAT shorts from Ralph Lauren?

Retailer uses distinctive Marine pattern for trendy gear

Jul. 3, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Ralph Lauren is selling Digital Camo Cargo shorts that look like Marine Corps MARPAT.
Ralph Lauren is selling Digital Camo Cargo shorts that look like Marine Corps MARPAT. (ralphlauren.com)
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For some, it’s life-saving camouflage designed to protect Marines in desert combat zones. For others, it’s a fashion statement.

The Denim & Supply line of the chic clothing retailer Ralph Lauren now offers shorts in desert MARPAT, the Marines’ licensed digital camouflage pattern. The knee-length shorts feature cargo pockets like the ones on Marine Corps utility pants, but over the right side pocket is something you won’t see on the uniform: U.S. and United Kingdom flags stitched on, side-by-side, with a tag featuring the Denim & Supply logo layered on top.

Careful observers will see the Marine eagle, globe and anchor insignias embedded in the official uniform pattern are filled in, turning them into brown splotches on the fabric.

The shorts retail for $69.50 at Macy’s or dedicated Denim & Supply stores in Boston and New York. But Marine officials say the company isn’t licensed to sell them at all.

Retailers can license a version of MARPAT sans the Marine Corps insignia, known to the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office as MARPAT Lite, Marine officials said.

However, Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine spokesman, said Ralph Lauren had never received such a license for its Denim & Supply shorts.

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention; we’ll reach out to Ralph Lauren regarding our licensing program,” he said.

A spokeswoman with Ralph Lauren did not respond to a request for comment within 24 hours of the request.

“The USMC owns both patents and trademark rights in the MARPAT desert and woodland variations through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” Flanagan said via email. “The Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office licenses MARPAT Lite to commercial vendors for use as an accent to their USMC-branded merchandise.”

Items such as baseball caps and jerseys in desert MARPAT Lite are examples of proper usage, Flanagan said, as long as the vendors of such items license their use of the pattern before marketing it.

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