Girl Scouts Settle Trademark Suit With Scouts BSA

from the scout's-honor dept

For roughly the past four years, we have been following the trademark lawsuit brought by the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) against Scouts BSA, formerly the Boy Scouts of America. While these two organizations coexisted peacefully for many years thanks to BSA’s “girls have cooties” viewpoint, that changed when BSA suddenly started allowing girls to join and underwent the rebrand to Scouts BSA. That rebrand often times included putting “girl” and “scouts” next to each other in recruiting branding, the use of Girl Scout slogans, pictures of in-uniform Girl Scouts in BSA recruiting material, and on and on. GSA notably also provided real-world examples of the above causing confusion in the public.

Despite that, the judge in the case commented that he was planning to rule in favor of Scouts BSA, mostly because GSA actually sued over the words “scout” and “scouting” instead of suing for the individual cases of infringement mentioned above.

Senior U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in what he called “temporary findings,” said he planned to rule for the Boy Scouts on its summary judgment motion, finding the group can use the general word “Scouting” to describe its co-ed programs without causing confusion with the Girl Scouts.

“‘Boy Scouts’ is a brand, ‘Girl Scouts’ is a brand, but ‘Scouting’ alone is an activity,” Hellerstein said.

And, yeah, that’s right. But that left the question, as the dispute continued on appeal, what to do about the confusion in the public? Well, GSA and Scouts BSA have now settled the case in a manner that will attempt to limit that confusion.

The bankrupt Boy Scouts said the proposed settlement includes the Girl Scouts dropping its appeal, withdrawing its opposition to the Boy Scouts proposed reorganization, and dropping its roughly $11 million claim in the bankruptcy. The Boy Scouts will withdraw a motion in the district court case that roughly $16 million of its legal fees and expenses be covered.

Settlement terms also include the Boy Scouts not using “girls” before “scouts,” and not doing cookie fundraisers. The Girl Scouts can’t do any fundraising involving popcorn.

And so that’s how this all ends: bans on cookies and popcorn respectively for each side and Scouts BSA can’t use “girl” and “scouts” in a manner that would cause confusion due to proximity.

Will this keep the confusion at bay? Maybe. Probably! At least to some extent. But the real question is why we had to navigate through a four year lawsuit in order to get to a place that Scouts BSA probably should have gotten to all by itself without litigious intervention.

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Companies: bsa, girl scouts, scouts bsa

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Comments on “Girl Scouts Settle Trademark Suit With Scouts BSA”

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Anonymous Coward says:

This stuff is always baffling to those of us who grew up here in the UK where the two different gendered organisations Baden-Powell formed were always closely intertwined, with members of both frequently attending major events of the other, and Boy Scout leaders often being adult former Girl Guides, with many of them having roles in both organisations, etc. Which honestly is just practical considering how often two siblings in a family will be members of the two.

James says:

Gas vs BSA settlements

Boy Scouts of America did NOT rebrand their name. They only changed the name of one of their program from Boy Scout troops to Scouts BSA troops. Their are 5 programs within the BSA: Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing, Sea Scouts and Exploring. Your article lacks credibility due to your lack of knowledge of the BSA.

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