“Morale Patch” Gets Trademarked and Uproar Ensues in the Morale Patch Community

Image source: itstactical.com

Morale patches have been getting pretty popular over the past few years, it seemed like at the 2017 SHOT Show especially. Lots of companies were giving out morale patches as a way to market themselves at the show. I managed to build up quite a collection from all the SHOT Shows and events I’ve been to over the years, who doesn’t like a cool patch from your favorite firearms companies? Even TFB has a morale patch that’s been spotted in the wild.

I recently saw a post over at Soldier Systems that someone actually trademarked the term “Morale Patch”. Ok, so what? Well supposedly the trademark holders, Morale Patch Armory, have been going around and forcing morale patch collector groups on Facebook to shut down their pages (again, supposedly). While that may be their right, if it’s true that’s something people in this community won’t forget. Check out the comments section in the Soldier Systems post I linked to above, a few members of various morale patch communities have chimed in claiming their social pages were shut down.

In response the community has created a GoFundMe page to help appeal the trademark, they’ve already surpassed their goal of $10,000.

Our community is under attack. The term “Morale Patch” was recently trademarked despite it being a common and generic term that our community has used for years and developed its identity around. We’ve reached our initial goals of $5,000 and $8,000, but keep going…who knows how much this thing is going to cost, but we’re probably going to need a sizable war chest.

We’ve got engagement letters in hand to retain counsel specializing in trademark law. We will be filing a motion of “cancellation” of the trademark. We’re confident that with the amount of previous usage, this trademark will be successfully and swiftly cancelled.

The retainer is $2,000 and the cost per hour of the attorney is $350. Any leftover funds after the legal challenge will be donated or used towards a cause that benefits the patch community as a whole…like perhaps a charity, an event at Shot Show for all of us, or a special patch for the group of people who answered the call. One step at a time, and right now that step is to defend the community and stand up for the principle of the matter.

If you’d like to contribute to this cause, $5, $20, or even $1,000 (like Jason Wages aka Modern Arms) or whatever you can give…you will be remembered as a hero and will be forever able to say that you stood up for what is decent and right in the face of tyranny. Now, go back to your Xerxes and tell him that he faces free men here.

-Violent Little

Now this doesn’t mean morale patches are going anywhere, they’ll still be available to buy from retailers other than Morale Patch Armory. It just means groups that use the term “Morale Patch” and small independent retailers who use “Morale Patch” in their business name may be forced to stop using the generic and widely used term.

Morale patches have been around for decades. Fellow TFB writer Miles V even gave us a little break down on the history of morale patches and his experience with them in the Marines:

The velcro patch fascination really started with the U.S. Army when the service switched over to velcro patches (Hook & Loop to avoid trademark issues) from the older sewn on patches used to represent a soldier’s rank, name, and unit. These patches made it much easier to change out uniforms when switching units or being promoted to a higher rank. Currently the Army is still the only service to utilize this velcro system, the other services are still using the older sewn on patches to represent units and names. Except for the Marine Corps, because we don’t need patches to know where all of us are from. Had to throw that in there!

Anyways, the velcro obsession continued when soldiers first donned the Intercepter flak jackets, then the larger turtle-like flaks in Iraq, and finally what are using now with plate carriers. Velcro was added to all of these so soldiers could identify each other because the flak jackets covered up the front portions of their uniforms where the name and rank was. The shoulder patches obviously weren’t covered up so those stayed.

The Marine Corps took this a step further and began implementing something called “Deployment Patches” (so called because you were only issued one on deployment). Since we don’t have unit patches or insignia on our shoulders, and our flak jackets covered up our front blouses with our names and rank, deployment patches began to see usage on the MTV flak jackets that included a rectangular section of velcro on the front, just underneath the chin of a Marine.

However the Marines took it a step further in a morbid usage of them. When a Marine is killed or injured, his information has to be relayed over the radio for the medivac bird to come through. Important information such as Zap/Kill number, blood type, name, even unit has to be relayed very urgently to the medics on the helicopter, in addition to the chain of command to let them know who the casualty was. Medics have to know what blood type he is, in addition to if he has any allergies to various medicine used, such as penicillin. In addition you don’t really want to broadcast over the radio net that Lcpl. Smith just got his leg blown off and is bleeding to death.

So how do you get this information across? The way we did this is through the aforementioned ZAP or Kill number. Essentially every Marine in a unit has a designation, that usually is the first letter of the company he is in, the first letter of his last name, and his last four digits of his social security number. As an example, mine was “CV1111” (social made up) when I was with 1/9. C was for my company, Charlie company. V was for my last name, Vining, and 1111 was the last four of my social. This way, when passing up information, the reporting unit has to only mention that “CV1111” was hit. Back at higher headquarters, a clerk can easily look up my ZAP number where it has my blood type, and any additional medical information that needs to be attached to the incoming bird.

So what does this have to do with deployment patches? Well, if I get blown up on one side of a compound, and if the patrol leader with the radio is on the other side of the compound, someone in the patrol can run over to me, rip the deployment patch off of my plate carrier, run back to the patrol leader, hand it to him, and he now has all the information (apart from my injuries) needed to notify higher about who was injured or killed. This could be especially useful if for example I’m on a patrol with a different platoon or even unit and they don’t know much about my particular situation.

Overseas, individuals started ordering custom deployment patches, and this led to custom unit patches, which then lead to custom anything patches, which is what we now call “Morale Patches” and thus have become extremely popular. Many of these patches were initially made in Iraq or Afghanistan by various local shops that catered to Soldiers or Marines losing or needing replacement unit/rank/deployment patches. To make something for a custom order was extremely simple and cheap. Guys would return to the U.S. and continue the practice with local patch makers here, and it sort of blossomed into what we see all over the shooting industry today. At the same time this was happening, velcro was being added to more MOLLE pouches and tactical gear, allowing more space to fit this extra stuff. Often times senior NCOs would issue orders that extra patches couldn’t be worn at all, but we still snuck them on our gear whenever we could for that “cool” factor.

To many Marine Infantrymen, a deployment patch is a sign of seniority, sort of like an earned memento that you only got if you went overseas. I still have the first one that was issued to me, its held together by glue, and is caked with sweat, grime, and Afghan dirt. But it holds a very deep sentimental value of a time in my life that forever changed me in many regards.





Ray I.

Long time gun enthusiast, archery noob, Mazda fan, Sci-Fi nerd, Whiskey drinker, online marketer and blogger. My daily firearms musings can be found over at my gun blog ArmoryBlog.com and Instagram.

Shoot me an email at ray.i@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • TheNotoriousIUD

    This seems like a worthwhile thing to get all legalistic over.

  • SPQR9

    Trademark registrations are not supposed to be issued for generic terms. Nor for descriptive marks, unless a showing is made that the mark already has become the company’s trademark due to a large recognition in the market.

    • Joseph Roach

      I know the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but then sometimes I just think democracy was a mistake.

      t. law student

      • John Yossarian

        Of course democracy is a mistake – Our founders didn’t even question that, and so gave us a republic. Even then, James Madison referred to the institution of government as “Evil” – And that’s coming from the guy who wrote our Constitution.

        • iksnilol

          Eh, so’s a republic.

          Both systems have you choosing your masters under false pretenses.

          • valorius

            What’s the alternative?

          • iksnilol

            I dunno, a meritocracy? Y’know, have the best people in one field be responsible for that field. Isn’t a complicated idea. IE for a minister of education, I’d like people that are respected in the field of education to be leaders. Not whatever career politicians managed to claw themselves to that position,credentials be darned.

            oooh, and NASCAR style suits for politicians in general, always wanted that no matter the govt type.

          • valorius

            LMAO 😀

          • iksnilol

            I’ll admit, I got the pre-finals jitters but I think that makes some sense.

          • Stephen Paraski

            Or Donated Money to earn position? Kinda like the last days of Rome.

          • Joseph Roach

            A noble class forced to see armed combat before the elevation of each new ruler? An alternative is the franchise (right to vote) being based upon four years military service like in Starship Troopers. Either way the leadership of a country breaks down the less you ask of it up front. Same thing goes with voting and the legal system, let anyone do it for any reason, and it becomes a race to the bottom, or lowest common denominator.

            They called that in philosophy class “The Tragedy of the Commons”, I call it “The Tyranny of Absolute Democracy”.

          • valorius

            Starship troopers was a fascist society.

          • Mattblum

            You obviously didn’t read the book. It was a meritocracy based on service. The movie on the hand was pretty fascist.

          • demophilus

            Um, actually, Heinlein was something of a wag, and social satirist. A lot of his stories were put-ons. When Paul Verhoeven did the movie, he just amped up the fascism. It’s not like it isn’t there; it’s just more of an inside joke in the book than it is in the film, which is way over the top.

          • Mattblum

            I admit to a certain bias. I read Heinlein a lot as a kid and he definitely had a part in forming my political sensibilities. The fact that we have had a few waves of major political figures in recent years that were very willing to throw other people’s children into war though they had never seen it themselves has served to reinforce many of those lessons.

            I don’t really agree that the book was Fascist, but there was a authoritarian element. I’ll have to read it again and see how it resonates with me as an adult. I do think that the emphasis on public service is a valid one. We are more than individuals. We are part of a nation, the continued existence of which relies on individuals being willing to expend some effort to the common good. Of course, agreeing on the definition of “common good” is complex. As it should be.

          • demophilus

            Points well taken; ST is more authoritarian than “fascist”. But if you reread it as an adult, I recommend fixing y’self a Scotch or bourbon to better ponder how the humans — grunts, pilots, Intelligence — come off more and more like the Bugs. Or, ponder the initial punitive raid against the Skinnies, who (IIRC) are just dickheads stuck in the middle. Or, contemplate the recurrent use of “Roger Young”, one of the cheesiest war songs ever (no diss on the man who inspired it; he was a stud). Or, reflect on the Bugs nuking Bueno Aires, on account of its military significance — and, its tango scene. And let’s face it — Johnny Rico is a chowderhead.

            When I read it as a kid I thought it was sort of serious, but…off. Especially when pegged against The Moon is A Harsh Mistress, Revolt in 2100, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Puppet Masters, All You Zombies, or Time Enough For Love.

            After Verhoeven did the movie I reread it, and just about laughed my ass off.

          • valorius

            Nope, never read the book.

          • billyoblivion

            You should. If for no other reason than you won’t make comments like that.

          • valorius

            The movie was great in it’s own right.

          • billyoblivion

            I would be willing to go as far a “good”.

            But it really was a movie based on a half remembered reading of the back cover of the novel of the same name.

          • valorius

            It was great. 🙂

          • It wasn’t just military service. People would volunteer for public service, and were placed wherever they were needed for as long as they were needed, not four years. Most of them did end up in the military, but some were placed in civil service.
            They didn’t know where they would end up when they volunteered, though.
            And they couldn’t vote until they were released, however long that took.

        • valorius

          “Government is not eloquence, it is force.”
          -George Washington

        • Fruitbat44

          “Democracy is the worst system of government there is; apart from all the others.”

          • Chris

            Democracy is 4 pedophiles and a soccer mom
            Voting on the age of consent … !
            Or three wolves and 2 sheep deciding what is for supper !
            In a Constitutional Republic , there is a base of laws to protect the people from the mob rule of democracy and those sheep ,and soccer moms can keep and bear Machine Guns !

        • R

          That’s slightly misleading. As a republic, we’re a representative democracy. The founding fathers were against idea of a direct democracy.

    • Joseph Goins

      The USPTO determined that “morale patch” is not a generic term. (They actually told MPA that they cannot enforce the “patch” part of the mark for that reason.) Because they did not invent the term and because it is in common usage across the marketplace, the USPTO erred in granting the trademark.

      • Chris

        I’ve shopped at LA Police Gear for years and if you
        typed in morale patch (or even moral patch ,spelling doesn’t seem to matter !) it comes up with 1299 patches for sell ! It’s as common in use as calling your refrigerator A “Fridge ” even though it may not be made by Frigidaire Company !

  • M-dasher

    So what?……just call them “patches” and move on……i really dont think people care what you call them

    • M-dasher

      Honestly ide rather they send that $10k to the NRA ILA……..wpuld be a much better use of that money

      • Joseph Goins

        No, it wouldn’t. The NRA has a massive warchest that never depletes.

        • M–DASHER

          And you do realize the NRA is not the same as the NRA ILA( the part that handels all the legal work)……in fact….no mo ey the NRA gets can legally go towards the NRA ILA

          • Joseph Goins

            [1] NRA-ILA does not handle the “all the legal work.” That would be the NRA Civil Defense Fund. NRA-ILA handles lobbying.

            [2] The NRA is the entire organization to which I was referencing. By extension, it covers the NRA-ILA. If we want to use your definition, then the NRA-ILA would not be legally conducting business since it has no separate legal disclosures from the NRA. But since the world doesn’t operate that way, you are trying to split hairs.

            [3] $10K isn’t going to help in the long run. However, it will make a difference in the intellectual property surrounding “morale patch” for the people who wish to donate.

    • Lording

      Half the point is that unlike Band-Aids and Oreos which started as brand terms and became generic, morale patches have been called such for a few decades now and suddenly this company that was founded within the past few short years decides they own the term?

      • Joseph Goins

        Just like “Jell-o” became synonymous with “gelatin dessert.”

    • Chris

      Type in patches in a lot of search bars and you be sent to the sewing supplies ,clothing repairing materials ,sew-on Or iron-on patches , or tire repair and automotive … etc … so you can’t “just call em a ‘patch’ and move on…” they are “MORALE ” patches and nobody can come along and steal the name we’ve been using for years !

  • Michael Lubrecht

    There’s a Morale Patch “community”? Would that be for the folks who’ve become too old to collect Pokemon cards?

    • Person

      At the risk of assuming preferred pronouns, I put forth the idea that we call them PokemAn cards.

    • It’s the current year, every consumer hobby is a “community” now.

    • Bierstadt54

      I would not have thought of it as a community, but people can band together pretty damn quickly when someone puts them under a common threat. I wonder who are the people behind Moral Patch Armory, because they just got themselves on a lot of shooters’ you-know-what list.

  • Richie

    I believe they made it quite clear they had nothing to do with any of those facebook takedowns, and that was a week ago

    • Lording

      And since then there have been screen caps surfacing that proves just the opposite, that these morons are actually forcing anyone they can to remove a term that’s been used since at least the second World War from everything.

    • Joseph Goins

      Either: [1] the Facebook pages shut down of their own accord, [2] the government forced them to shut down, [3] Facebook shut them down because it’s Facebook, or [4] Morale Patch Armory filed a claim with Facebook against them.

      Let’s process this rationally. The pages deny they they shut down willingly, the government hasn’t taken any action to enforce the trademark (public knowledge, and Facebook doesn’t shut down pages like this unless…

      I think you were taken for a sucker if you believed them.

      • Richie F

        I didnt say I believed them, but if they made a statement to that effect, that means they are also liars if facebook can attest to that fact

      • Nashvone

        Meh…Facebook is pretty anti. I wouldn’t doubt that they jumped at the chance to remove a group they didn’t fully approve of.

        • Joseph Goins

          Anti-gun, not anti-morale patch. I also submit to you that they really aren’t THAT anti-gun since Sig, Glock, HK, Colt, and others haven’t been banned.

  • Jack_A_Lope

    I had no idea my squadrons’ symbols, mascots, or whatever you want to call them, affixed to a patch, was considered a morale patch. The coolest “morale patch” in my collection? I helped host a group of vendors working on a night vision goggle project for A6 pilots. The green stitching on the black background looked exactly like the NVG display, and was the envy of my peers.

    • Mark Horning

      Historically a “Morale Patch” would be a modified version of a squadron patch, or “unofficial” patch that one would wear on Fridays or other team building or “morale” events. The USAF is a lot more laid back about such things than the USN though.

      • Jack_A_Lope

        Flight jackets and flight suits were about the only places I saw squadron patches on official uniforms. Otherwise, you’d see them on gym bags, duffel bags, etc. No casual Friday uniform days for us.

        • Mark Horning

          We had one Colonel who made Hawaiian shirts the “uniform of the day” on the last Friday of every month. Still have quite the collection of Aloha Friday shirts.

  • valorius

    Ive never even heard the term until now.

  • GUNxSPECTRE

    Money really does ru(i)n everything

  • BattleshipGrey

    So in the hopes of gaining more customers by registering the term “morale patch” morale has actually plummeted. Great marketing.

  • Phillip Cooper

    So, lots of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) about something that isn’t that important and can’t be demonstrably proven to be occurring.

    TFB has gone the way of mainstream journalism……

    • Joseph Goins

      Where is the FUD? They own the trademark. What surprises me is the apparent lack of effort in obtaining a comment given the fact that they did not include anything about it. The guy’s information is public knowledge:

      Julio Medina
      PO Box 276
      Griffith, IN 46319
      563-517-7641
      email@juliomedina.com

      Before some privacy freaks out that I put this on here, consider that the information is freely available from the ICANN WhoIs database since he registered the company website himself through GoDaddy. Many other services do it and shield your name.

  • Joseph Goins

    [1] The trademark is held by Morale Patch Armory LLC. They received it 2/7/17.

    [2] According to my friend at Georgetown Law, the name is in common usage so the trademark shouldn’t be defensible. However, the process of appealing the PTO’s decision is expensive. (Think about the M4 name circa 2004.)

    [3] If the company has been going around telling others to shut down, I hope we bankrupt the hell out of them.

    • Michael Lubrecht

      I’ve just successfully received trademark protection for the term “Morel Patch.” If you want to pick mushrooms this spring, you’ll need to send me a licensing fee! 🙂

  • SSD

    Thanks for referencing my story. Last week, the owner of Morale Patch Armory who the story was about, filed a claim that I had violated the DMCA by using his trademark without his permission. My ISP threatened to shut SSD down. My lawyer has interceded. Please let me know if you have a similar experience.

  • Cammer

    This is just like trademarking the terms “seat belt” or “salad fork.” Common descriptive terms that have been in common use for many years. Seems to me that a simple letter writing campaign would get this issue resolved with a minimum of legal fuss.

  • Mattblum

    I think that the important thing is to remember that we have a long memory. Nobody, and I mean nobody should buy any product from this company again. Ever.

  • demophilus

    I know a bit of trademark law, and some of this doesn’t make sense. A trademark is generally applied to goods, or used to advertise services. So the registrant here can use it on their own patches, but can’t prevent anyone else from calling their products “morale patches”. They just can’t put that on the patch as a designation of source.

    As far as takedown notices go, the ISPs don’t really examine them on the merits, if at all. Some go straight to an AI filter, and maybe an intern after that.

    Finally, I’ve dealt with the USPTO for quite a while. Sometimes it seems like all the smart lawyers there go to the Patent section. To put it politely, the TM Examining Attorneys can be obtuse. That’s what the TTAB is for.

  • Geoff Timm

    Haven’t used one since I left the Army. But it seems to be another screw up by the well bribed scum in Government. Geoff Who wonders how much it would cost him to TM “the”?

  • jonp

    How do i destroy my business in as short a time as possible…hmm…Shit, i know! I’ll piss off the customers with the longest memories in business!

  • iksnilol

    Considering how your AR isn’t full auto due to you meekly following your masters, I doubt you’d do s###.

    Also, dictatorship is completely different. I’m just against the idea of a minister of education being a person without any knowledge or experience in education. Or a secretary of defense somebody without any experience in that field. Seriously, that ain’t elite dictatorship, that’s just basic logic. You have people doing what they’re good at. You don’t bring a drag car to a rally race.

  • iksnilol

    They should get kneecapped, that’s the only way.

  • LGonDISQUS

    I tell my employees that we’re too small of a company to bicker about each other, and that it will tear us apart.
    This is one of those petty instances in the gun industry.

  • Bill Shut

    That’s why this will never go anywhere if said (foolish) company ever decides to go after some company with the wherewithal to defend themselves from a frivolous lawsuit. Just the same as when Apple was bullying other companies over BS patents, until Samsung stood up to them. Rounded corners on a rectangle shape is a patent-able concept, Apple? LOL

  • Mark Horning

    The history is a bit off, since I recall the USAF using unit patches with Velcro on flight suits for several decades before the Army got into the act, and we used to trade them back and forth before unit coins became popular in the mid to late 90s. Actual “moral” or “friday” patches are at least as old, like the famous “Death Wears Bunny Slippers” patch.