The Girl Scouts of USA (GSUSA) has sued the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for trademark infringement. The dispute between them is regarding the use of the word “scout” without a gender modifier.

The suit argues that despite the ling co-existence of the organizations using the same term, BSA does not have the right to use the same term when marketing itself to girls.

The suit alleges that confusion among both the names will marginalize the Girl Scouts Movement by causing the public to believe that GSUSA’s services are not true official scouting programs, but ordinary services with limited utility and appeal.

In May 2018, BSA announced that it would change its name for its program for 11 to 17 year olds from Boy Scouts to Scouts BSA and would accept girls into its younger Cub Scouts program.

The suit has referred to this announcement and stated that it would affect the long-standing relationship between the two organizations. The suit also mentions a video posted in July that features girls and uses the slogan “Scout Me In”. It also cites and includes several examples of local Boy Scouts chapters using the term “Girl Scouts” by itself and in connection to Boy Scouts.

While it is not allowed to register a trademark in a generic word used in isolation, like scout, trademark law provides protection in narrowly defined areas to provide distinction among competing products-or scouting organizations.

The BSA has stated that it has already registered 62,000 girls in the Cub Scouts, which covers ages 7 to 10. It also has 170,000 girls in three other programs that it runs, including Sea Scouts.

According to the GSUSA, it has taken the step keeping with the standard practice in any field and has done what any brand, company, corporation, or organization would do to protects its intellectual property, the value of its brand and defend its good name.

The BSA envisions increasing the inclusion of girls in February 2019 in its Cub Scouts. The membership of the BSA has declined from 2.8 million in 2012 to 2.3 million in 2016, owing to reactions from the religious communities and conservative parents and children for increasing acceptance of broader sexual identity and orientation, reversing ban on gay troop leaders, and gay and transgender kids.

The GSUSA has also seen significant decline in its membership from 2.9 million in 2003 to 1.8 million in 2018.

However, the BSA notes that it still believes that there is opportunity for both the organizations to serve girls and boys in the community. But does that mean it will be able to use the term “Scout” by itself? Let us wait for the final decision on it.

23 aug, 2018


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