The Girl Scouts sue BSA over name change


#1

This seems incredibly counterproductive to me.


#2

They say it will cause confusion, but the confusion is already there, at least for me. It took a long time for me to understand that they were unaffiliated organizations. Looks like Girls Scouts started 2 years after Boy Scouts…seems like that’s when the confusion started, and I’m surprised that’s not when the law suits were flying…


#3

I’m a little torn on this one. I like the idea of the BSA diversifying (though they continue to be religious bigots who prohibit atheists or agnostics), but GSUSA seem to have a legit trademark dispute. There seems to be legit evidence of actual consumer confusion, unlike so many trademark suits where the object is oppression of a competitor rather than legit protection of a mark for purposes of preventing consumer confusion. Keep in mind that BSA is a trademark bully, and regularly goes after other organizations for using the term “scouts” in their name, such as “Hacker Scouts,” so it is entirely reasonable for GSUSA to try to limit BSA’s attempt to expand their use of “Scouts” at the expense of diluting the GSUSA’s marks.


#4

Except the BSA isn’t expanding the way they use the word “Scouts,” they’re merely expanding who is allowed to be a scout.


#5

BSA is expanding their trademarks.

Here’s a list of their trademarks:

http://licensingbsa.org/trademarks/

“Scout” is not among them, not on its own. BSA are trying to expand their use of the mark at the expense of another scouting organization by essentially becoming “Scouts of America,” without any qualifier, thus clearly encroaching on GSUSA use of the term scouting. If GSUSA changed its name to ScoutingUSA or program to “Scouting” I believe BSA would have a complete shit fit and file suit immediately.


#6

Huh, last I heard they were planning to be “Scouting BSA,” but that’s awkward because the “S” becomes redundant. Maybe the Girl Scouts could help come up with ideas for name changes that maintain brand identity without excluding girls.


#7

“Scouting BSA” strikes me as the term they’ll hide in 6 point grey type in the “Privacy Policy” section of their website, while the rest of the site shouts “SCOUTS!!!” and “SCOUTING” at the top of their lungs. Even if they do use Scouting BSA as the primary identifier, that would still be a trademark change that dilutes the GSUSA mark as proven by consumer confusion.

The suit specifically seeks to block the use of “scouts” and “scouting” by themselves and “Scouting BSA” specifically.


#8

Well, to go back to your earlier example if the Girl Scouts had gone co-ed first I think it would be a dick move if the BSA sued to force them to keep the word “Girls” instead of rebranding themselves “Scouting GSUSA.”


#9

The Girl Scouts time and money would be better spent making their program attractive to modern young women than bitching about what the BSA does. Sadly, the BSA change is a bit late for my 16 year old daughter, but she’s gotten a bit of what the BSA offers by working at a Scout camp this past summer. Normally shy and soft spoken, she learned a lot about leadership and self reliance having to herd groups of 11 year old scouts around, way more than at a normal summer camp.

The BSA camps operate far differently, devolving far more authority and independence on very young staff, a refreshing difference from the closely supervised, scheduled & helicopter parented life of a typical middle class youth. This past summer her 19 year old Eagle Scout big brother was guiding BSA groups on multi-day backpacking trips up 14k ft Colorado peaks as the sole staffer. This is what BSA is about. The GS need to wake up and get out of the 1950’s.


#10

I don’t think that GSUSA has the right to re-brand as “Scouting GSUSA” any more than BSA has the right to rebrand as “Scouting BSA”. Both of their existing marks are for specific markets, not for the exclusive use of “scouts” or “scouting” as marks on their own.

I’m not interested in BSA or GSUSA being limited to a single gender, but they staked out their trademark claims a long time ago. Neither is entitled to a trademark expansion of “scouts” or “scouting” in a way that dilutes the other’s trademarks. It’s what they both get for being “scouting” organizations.

Keep in mind that both the BSA and the GSUSA have congressional charters, and expanded trademark rights from those charters, greater rights than regular trademark holders are allowed. Neither the BSA nor GSUSA has to actually prove dilution when suing over trademark rights. So one suing the other over trademarks is going to be interesting.

Girl Scouts:

The corporation has the exclusive right to use all emblems and badges, descriptive or designating marks, and words or phrases the corporation adopts, including the badge of the Girl Scouts, Incorporated, referred to in the Act of August 12, 1937

[emphasis added]
http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title36/subtitle2/partB/chapter803&edition=prelim

Boy Scouts:

The corporation has the exclusive right to use emblems, badges, descriptive or designating marks, and words or phrases the corporation adopts.

[emphasis added]

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title36/subtitle2/partB/chapter309&edition=prelim


#11

In my view, as long as there exists in this world any form of gender discrimination, having a safe space for girls and women is going to be necessary. Women and especially young women and girls NEED to have spaces of their own, because pretty much all co-ed spaces generally are dominated by men and boys, the structures dictated by their wants and needs.


#12

As far as I know nobody is trying to dismantle the Girl Scouts or force them to go co-ed.


#13

Well, I never said that. But it’s going to impact the Girl Scouts for sure, because plenty of people see the organization as vastly inferior to the Boy Scouts… pretty much anything that’s for women or girls is seen as lesser than. More parents, thinking that co-ed is the way to go, will sign their daughters up for the BSA now instead of the Girl Scouts. it will impact the bottom line of the organization, whether that’s the intent or not. I do think that’s going to be a pretty sad by product of this.

Just my $.02… make of it what you will.


#14

I agree this could be bad for the Girl Scouts but going co-ed still seems like the least-bad thing the BSA could do.

It’s kind of like the situation American universities were in a century ago. Allowing women to attend traditionally male-only institutions like Harvard had the unfortunate side effect of putting many women-only institutions out of business, but I’m not sure that would justify continuing to ban women from Harvard.


#15

I think maybe the difference in my mind is that getting a degree from Harvard (or any Ivy League) confers special privileges that meant women were denied. Maybe the same is true of the BSA? I guess I’m not arguing against the BSA being co-ed as much as I am lamenting the fact that girls who end up in the BSA vs. the Girl Scouts are not going to have the same voice within the organization. The same is true, actually, at Harvard. It’s still dominated by men, as is much of academia across the board. Departments that are dominated by women and people of color of all genders, get much less funding and respect.

So, again, I don’t know. The world just sucks and I can’t do anything about it other than rant about it. Just ignore me, like one of those people on the street ranting about the end of the world. I’m sure about I’m about as useful or make as much sense… :wink:


#16

If it makes you feel any better I see where you’re coming from.

In my family I’ve got one of each. I admit I was half-hoping my daughter would switch organizations when the opportunity opened up for pure “family logistics” purposes but she wanted to stick with the Girl Scouts so a Girl Scout she remains.


#17

Almost Olympic class?