Girl Scouts claim trademark infringement in suit against BSA

| Jan 6, 2021 | Trademark Law |

Scouting has been a part of childhood for many in the Morris area, with some people even earning the Boy Scout’s highest honor, becoming an Eagle Scout, or the Girl Scout’s highest honor, earning a Gold Award. By now, you may be aware that the Boy Scouts of America began accepting girls in their organization in October 2017. However, the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. are now claiming that the Boy Scouts of America’s marketing and recruiting efforts constitute unfair competition and trademark infringement.

The issue

According to the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A’s legal filing, Boy Scouts of America recently made a switch to gender-neutral language in some of its marketing materials. These materials did not refer to “boy” scouts, but simply referred to scouts and scouting. In addition, the Boy Scouts of America used the phrase “Scout Me In” in its recruitment efforts. According to the filing, this infringed on the Girl Scouts’ longstanding trademarks, a move that according to the filing is “highly damaging.”

An erosion of distinctiveness

The Girl Scouts’ century-old trademark, according to the filing, designated the “source of scouting services for girls.” However, the filing claims that the acts of the Boy Scouts of America eroded that distinctiveness and that as a remedy these acts should be stopped to prevent future losses.

The Boy Scouts response

The Boy Scouts responded to these allegations. In their response, they stated that the Girl Scouts have no legally admissible evidence that confusion between the organizations was the prevailing reason for a girl choosing to join Boy Scouts rather than Girl Scouts. The Boy Scouts went on to say that the claim against them was dismissive of the choice of over 120,000 girls who opted to join Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA.

It remains to be seen whether the Girl Scouts will prevail in their legal efforts. However, this case does highlight how even long-established organizations can still claim they suffered trademark infringement. Those in New Jersey who have similar concerns may want to consult with an intellectual property attorney for further information.


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