Scouts BSA Seek To End Girl Scouts' Trademark Lawsuit By Brazenly Claiming No Confusion Does Or Will Exist

from the scout's-honor dept

We've been covering the lawsuit brought by The Girl Scouts of America against Scouts BSA, formerly The Boy Scouts of America, for some time. In the two posts that covered the suit, the GSA has alleged all kinds of very real confusion in the marketplace for female scoutting as a result of the branding change by Scouts BSA, which include:

-“As a result of Boy Scouts’ infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts,” the lawyers said, adding that this never occurred before 2018.

-The lawyers said Boy Scouts councils in Illinois acknowledging improperly using the Girl Scouts’ slogan in Cub Scout recruiting materials and pictures of Girl Scouts to promote a Boy Scouts “Scouts Sign-Up Night!”

-They said a western Massachusetts Boy Scouts council posted a recruiting flyer on Facebook including a photograph of a girl depicted in her Girl Scouts Brownie uniform.

-Meanwhile, Ohio Boy Scouts used the Girl Scouts trademark to try to get a local newspaper to write an article, suggesting a storyline entitled “Boy and Girl Scouts Looking for Members” even though the recruitment involved only the Boy Scouts, the lawyers said.

-Minnesota families looking to sign up their girls were erroneously told the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts have merged. Meanwhile, in Indiana and South Dakota, some parents mistakenly signed up their daughters to girls’ programs in the Boy Scouts.

Those appear to be verifiable, real-world claims of confusion as a result of the BSA rebranding to a more generic name, all in the context of a world where the BSA and GSA have long been separated along gender lines. Why it should be any surprise that confusion exists here is beyond me. It seems like roughly the most predictable thing in the world to have happened, particularly when you account for the actions of local Scouts BSA organizations that seemed to actively attempt to instill such confusion.

In fact, perhaps the most surprising thing now is that Scouts BSA is asking a judge for a summary judgement that no confusion has or will exist.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan will hear oral arguments on the Boy Scouts' motion for summary judgment, in which it argued that rebranding as "Scouts BSA" and advertising to girls won't cause confusion with the Girl Scouts.

The Boy Scouts said in a statement that it has been clear that the groups are separate organizations, and trusts that "families choose organizations for their children with great care." Rachel Kassabian of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan represents the Boy Scouts.

This is belied, again, by the examples of confusion that have not been specifically refuted as well as some of the confusion-inducing actions taken by Scouts BSA local chapters. It's also a simple matter to remind the public that the BSA has itself been extremely protective of all manner of its IP in the past, making this not solely a story about spurious claims of non-confusion, but also one of hypocrisy.

We'll await the ruling by the judge on this motion, but it would be very strange if Scouts BSA prevailed.

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Filed Under: likelihood of confusion, scouts, trademark
Companies: boy scouts of america, girl scouts of america, scouts bsa

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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Sep 2021 @ 6:32pm

    'If you could just ignore their evidence Your Honor...'

    'I reject your reality and substitute my own' certainly makes for a... novel legal argument, I'll give them that, though asserting that there's no confusion when the other side has provided multiple examples of just that probably isn't going to go over to well with a judge.

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