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Next 'Scout' lesson: Protect against trademark infringement

The Girl Scouts are not happy.

After the Boy Scouts of America decided in 2017 to allow girls in their ranks, they rebranded themselves with new trademarks: "Scouts", "Scouting" and "Scouts BSA".

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) were not amused. They have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the BSA and its non-gender specific rebranding efforts.

The problem

GSUSA is independent of the BSA and they too use the word "scouts" freely in their branding efforts. The lawsuit states that BSA's use of "scouts" sends the message that BSA is the exclusive provider of scouting to both boys and girls.

The GSUSA was especially irked by BSA's new marketing campaign "Scout Me In" that was targeted specifically at middle and high school-aged girls as well as boys.

A cause for confusion

The law appears to be on GSUSA's side. The organization has to prove they own the trademark and that the new branding would cause confusion. There have already been mix-ups reported in Indiana, South Dakota and Minnesota. One troop in Texas started a signup sheet for "Boys/Girl Scouts of America."

GSUSA agrees that BSA has the right to use the word "scout", but only when it markets to boys. In their lawsuit, they suggest BSA use another distinctive word in front of "scouts" when they are targeting girls.

Girl Scouts membership has dropped 27 percent since 2003. Similarly, there were 6 million Boy Scouts in the 1970s, but that dropped to 2.8 million in 2012 and 2.3 million in 2016. BSA was founded in 1910. GSUSA was founded in 1912.

Although they made the decision to accepts girls in 2017, BSA started allowing girls into troops only on March 1, 2019.

Your trademark might not be as pervasive as the century-old brands of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, but that doesn't make them any less important. Get in touch with a qualified, experienced attorney if you have questions or need help filing or protecting your company's trademark.

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 Saile Ackerman LLC

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