BSA to Hacker Scouts: change your name or be sued


Let them sue the US militaries Sniper Scouts (w/ the whole waffen SS thing)


At first I thought this was about the Business Software Alliance and they were suing because Hacker ___________________. Still bad.


Have they sued the Girl Scouts too?


Just make it open to adults and youth – no longer a youth group and thus able to use the word “scout”.

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Perhaps borrow from our comrades… All-Union Young Makers League

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“The Not Homophobic Scouts” No chance of confusion in the market.


They are not that brave.

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BSA has this warped idea that they are the sole representatives of the international Scouting Movement in the United States… I’d love to see them counter-sued over this one; I don’t think they’ve got a leg to stand on. “And do you also think you have sole rights to the word Boy? Or America, for that matter?”

Girl Scouts. Scouts, Inc. (which seems to be related to some sport I have no interest in). HealthCare Scouts, a placement firm. National Talent Scouts, Inc. Hospitality Talent Scouts, Inc. Grout Scouts, Inc. Toy Scounts (auctions). Model Scout. And that’s a quick search.

That horse has not only left the barn, it burnt the barn behind it.

They might be able to go after the phrases “merit badge” or “skill badge”, if the Hacker Scouts are using them and if BSA trademarked them. Of course there are plenty of synonyms.

I grew up in a less enlightened time; I hear “scounts”, I think of amerindians.


Whenever I hear the word “scouts” I think of the Army.

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Hey, looks like is down.

Are we too late?

Not too late! We are working to get the site back up right now! Thanks for your support!


I would think that it’s a trademark issue. To many people, the word Scout or Scouts refers to the Boy Scouts of America: “were you in scouts as a kid?”. The use of the name Scout(s) by another organization could possibly dilute BSA’s trademark. If I recall correctly, organizations must prevent any dilution that they know about or else later when it really counts, the courts will find that they’ve been tacitly implying that others may use their trademark without explicit permission. That’s why you see the stories about corporations forcing mom & pop stores to change their names when they’re too similar.

Now please excuse me while I go form a youth group that celebrates a love of soda. We call ourselves the Coca-Cola Kids.

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“Diluting the trademark” of a NON-PROFIT that also does not own the word “scout” does not bother me in the slightest.


Update: Doesn’t look like BSA purports to own “scout,” but I think they could still make a prevailing case in court.

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Don’t think so. If they were objecting to “Hacker Boy Scouts” or “Boy Hacker Scouts” or something like that, they might have a case. But “scouts” is no more protected than “cola” is; it’s a descriptive.

Common usage doth not a protected trademark make. If anything, that weakens the argument. Get me a kleenex and I’ll down this aspirin with an egg cream… all of which actually were trademarks but lost that status to common usage.

I know BSA would like to avoid dilution, but they don’t own that trademark in the first place. They may own Boy Scouts in the US, but I suspect what they actually own is, precisely, Boy Scouts Of America… and that gives them no ownership over the subsets thereof.


My understanding is that trademark law requires a holder to defend a trademark if there’s any question of an infringement. The case with which I am most familiar (and I am not a lawyer, so take all of this with a grain of salt) is when the University of Southern California sued the University of South Carolina for using an interlocking SC logo on their baseball caps, even though the interlocking designs looked almost nothing alike. SoCal won, so now S. Carolina has to pay a licensing fee. So the BSA may feel that they have to sue or lose their trademark.


There’s zero likelihood of confusion, zero likelihood of confusing the logo with BSA trademarks, and zero chance of the BSA prevailing in court. This may not even get past the pre-litigation bullshit. And by bullshit, I mean saber rattling.

They would have to trademark use of “____ Scout,” which they do not, and will not ever be able to do. The Hacker Scouts just need a lawyer to mock the BSA’s lawyer using some solid case law, and they’ll be fine.

Boy Scouts of America is a Title 36 corporation, a group which includes a small number of patriotic and national organizations. As a Title 36 corp, they have specially granted control over their copyrights.


The BSA holds a Congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code, which means that it is one of the comparatively rare “Title 36” corporations in the United States. The 1916 statute of incorporation established this institution amongst a small number of other patriotic and national organizations which are similarly chartered, such as the Girl Scouts of the USA, the American Legion, the Red Cross, Little League Baseball, and the National Academy of Sciences. The federal incorporation was originally construed primarily as an honor, however it does grant the chartered organization some special privileges and rights, including freedom from antitrust and monopoly regulation, and complete control over the organization’s symbols and insignia. As example, outside of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, no other youth organizations may use the term “scouts” or “scouting” in their name. The special recognition neither implies nor accords Congress any special control over the BSA, which remains free to function independently.

If Wikipedia is right, which may or may not be the case, Hacker Scouts could be in some trouble here. However, it’s still a shitty move for the BSA to make, trademark dilution or no.

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This is crazy pants!

I haven’t been involved with Hacker Scouts in 2013, but I was on the original advisory board for the group at School Factory. One of the things that I brought to that table was my previous experience organizing a small Spiral Scouts troupe when my eldest was a youngin’. They are ALSO not the Boy Scouts, by the way, in case you hadn’t guessed.

In the early planning stages we discussed using the Mozilla open badges, and I don’t know if they’ve gone with that model in the active tribes running now, but badges are certainly not unique to Boy Scouts, either.

Maybe they don’t like the fact that Hacker Scouts is openly and strongly inclusive of all races, creeds (or non-creeds), genders, and sexual orientations. Maybe they just don’t like the word “Hack”.

No matter what the reason, I hope that Samantha Cook and her crew of Hacker Parents, Hacker Scouts and Hacker Sprouts are able to call themselves what they want and the BSA realizes that they are just getting themselves into more hot water for no good reason here.