Girl Scouts Sue Boy Scouts For Trademark Infringement

November 7, 2018       Mark Hrywna      

A year after Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced it would allow girls to join the organization, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against it.

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District Court of New York, aims to stop BSA from using the phrase “Scout” or “Scouting” in its flagship program, which it rebranded in May.

The Irving, Texas-based organization launched a new campaign called “Scout Me In,” featuring girls and boys in its Cub Scout program for the first time, and also renamed a program for older girls as Scouts BSA. In October 2017, BSA’s board of directors unanimously approved allowing girls into the Cub Scout program, with plans for a program by 2019 for older girls that would allow them to achieve Scouting’s highest rank of Eagle Scout.

Boy Scouts had no right under state and federal law to use words like “scouts” or “scouting” on their own “in connection with services offered to girls, or to rebrand itself as ‘the Scouts,’” GSUSA contends in its suit in Manhattan federal court. The rebranding by Boy Scouts has created confusion, from families mistakenly signing up daughters for the Boy Scouts program to misinformation about the two scouting charities having merged, the girls organization argued.

GSUSA seeks a court order blocking BSA from using the term “Scout,” “Scouts,” Scouting or “Scouts BSA” without an “inherently distinctive or distinguishing term appearing immediately before it.”

The filing and the claims therein speak for themselves, the New York City-headquartered GSUSA said in a statement to The NonProfit Times. “The actions Girl Scouts took are in keeping with standard practice in any field, and we did what any brand, company, corporation, or organization would do to protect its intellectual property, the value of its brand in the marketplace, and to defend its good name.”

In a statement, Boy Scouts said it recently became aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing it carefully. “The decision to expand the program offerings for girls came after years of requests from families who wanted the option of the BSA’s character- and leadership-development programs for their children. We believe that we owe it to our current and future members to offer families the options they want,” it continued.

“We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including Girl Scouts of the USA, and believe that there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve youth in our communities.”

  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Girl Scouts of America
  • Southern District Court of New York
  • trademark infringement