Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Girl Scouts taking Boy Scouts to court over trademark issues

For decades, boys and girls in New Jersey have participated in programs operated by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The Boy Scouts of America's decision in 2017 to include girls has prompted the Girl Scouts of the United States of America to file a lawsuit alleging that BSA has confused consumers and infringed on trademarks held by the GSUSA.

The lawsuit calls for BSA to cease using trademarks held by Girl Scouts in their communications and recruitment. The Girl Scouts leadership wants BSA to apply distinguishing terms when using words like scout, scouts, scouting or Scouts BSA. Court filings cite examples such as Google ads for BSA organizations appearing when people search for "Girl Scouts" or recruiters telling parents that BSA and GSUSA have merged. The lawsuit adds that the confusion has undermined opportunities for GSUSA to collect membership dues. Concerns about becoming associated with sexual abuse allegations directed at the Boy Scouts were also mentioned in the lawsuit.

The separate organizations hold trademarks for the labels "Girl Scouts" and "Boy Scouts." In the past, they cooperated and tried to avoid confusing consumers. The Girls Scouts hope to impose restrictions on the BSA with the lawsuit and require training for BSA recruiters so that they cease alleged trademark infringements.

A person involved in a trademark dispute often seeks out legal advice. An attorney could evaluate registrations of intellectual property and use this documentation to defend a person's position during intellectual property litigation. To prepare a lawsuit, a lawyer could organize examples of the infringement and estimate the financial harm that has resulted. With legal help, a person might clearly communicate a claim for damages in court.

Source: ABA Journal, "Girl Scouts file trademark lawsuit against Boy Scouts", Lorelei Laird, November 7, 2018

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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