Thursday, March 3, 2011

Digital Concealment Systems A-TACS Vs. 5.11 Tactical A.T.A.C

It has come to our attention early today that Digital Concealment Systems (DCS), the design company that has created the Advanced Tactical Concealment System Camouflage (A-TACS) has filed a complaint against one of the tactical industries leading manufacturers, 5.11 Inc. 

The leading factor at hand in putting forth this complaint is to counter what DCS feels are harmful cease and desist production letters that 5.11 is sending to several manufacturers whom carry the license for the A-TACS Camouflage pattern. This includes Propper International which is soon to release their new A-TACS ACU Uniform, as well as Danner which has their Desert TFX Boots coming out this year in the same arid variant. 

The main contention that 5.11 has presented is that A-TACS is too similar to their A.T.A.C. brand, which they currently utilize for eleven types of boots and shoes, and a pair of gloves. While there is obvious similarity in the letters utilized for each brand, DCS contends that this would not cause any confusion in differentiating the products.

Even the manner the two brands are commonly pronounced are different, given the acronym style of 5.11's product. They also note that 5.11 had some time in bringing up a complaint as A-TACS was first introduced in 2009, but they neglected to do so. The camouflage brand has been utilized on several products including EOTAC tactical clothing, as well as Tactical Assault Gear, and Blue Force Gear. A quick search on Youtube will help you find some great videos of these products, some of which debuted over a year ago at the 2010 SHOT show. 

In sum DCS has several reasonable arguments as to why 5.11 has no bearing to issue such cease and desist letters and are acting in a fashion to harm their business in moving forward with the licensing of their products. Camouflage design companies thrive on the use of their patterns on commercial products and part of their compensation is based on continual sales. They also need to grow their name brand, which draws in further manufacturers to license their product. 5.11 obviously feels that DCS is infringing on a brand they have created and trademarked, however it is mentioned in the complaint that the timing of such cease and desist letters are suspect. 

Danner, Propper Internationl, T.A.G., and many other manufacturers have or will soon release their products utilizing this camouflage. They also openly displayed their new A-TACS products in January at the 2011 SHOT Show. Everywhere you walked at the convention, you either ran into an mannequin wearing the latest A-TACS product offerings in addition to big wall display of MultiCam products, or glorious gun assortments.

SHOT Show 2011, February 17th
Flyers were distributed with A-TACS giveaways, and the 5.11 booth was just four stops away from the Propper and Danner booths, which were covered in A-TACS Camouflage. Yet the cease and desist letters did not appear until a month later. The SHOT Show 2011 MAP gives a good look at how close the booths were for quick reference. As these manufacturers are pushing to produce, advertise, and offer these great new products with A-TACS camo to customers, they now have to face a last minute speed bump on the road to mass distribution of their high in demand products.

At the moment there is no indication that wide spread distribution of these products will cease any time soon. We are keeping abreast of the situation and will report on any changes in future delivery dates. I am waiting like everyone else for the UPS guy to drop off my Uniform.

In the end both companies offer amazing products. 5.11 has grown a reputation as having some of the best tactical clothing and gear in the industry. DCS is growing in leaps and bounds with their licensing of the A-TACS pattern and will also be entering the Army's Phase IV Camouflage competition. The future looks bright for both companies no matter the outcome of this case, but we hope it gets resolved in a swift manner, so everyone can go back to creating new and innovative products.

For further information Soldier Systems Daily has a great overview of the case and also were kind enough to provide their followers with easy to read Scribd copies of the complaint, as well as the cease and desist letters. 

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