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Girl Scouts Sue Boy Scouts in Trademark Infringement Spat

— December 27, 2020

The Girl Scouts claim that Boy Scout packs and troops have been tricking unsuspecting parents into signing their daughters up.

The Girl Scouts of America have filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, claiming the latter group misled parents into enrolling their daughters into the historically all-male organization.

According to The New York Daily News, the Girl Scouts’ lawsuit was filed earlier this week in a Manhattan federal court. Attorneys for the GSA claim that the Boy Scouts have, for the past two years, led an aggressive recruitment drive intended to poach female members.

“As a result of the Boy Scouts’ infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts,” the lawsuit states. “According to the Boy Scouts, blame for the rampant marketplace confusion lies at everybody’s feet but its own.”

The Daily News notes that the Boy Scouts opened its Cub Scouts program to girls in 2018. Six months later, adolescent girls were given the go-ahead to join general BSA “troops.”

The Girl Scouts quickly took action, claiming the BSA’s decision to open membership constituted trademark infringement.

In their latest filing, the Girl Scouts of America asserted that the BSA’s all-gender acceptance is “extraordinary and highly damaging,” having caused an “explosion of confusion.”

Collection of Boy Scouts badges. Image via PublicDomainPictures/user:Junior Libby. Public domain.

“The parties’ programs, which have many similarities, are now directly competitive,” the suit states.

The lawsuit purportedly cited “multiple” instances of confusion, wherein parents were somehow unable to differentiate between the two organizations. Part of the problem—according to the complaint—is the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to change the name of its program for older children from “Boy Scouts” to “Scouts BSA” in 2019.

Although the Boy Scouts say they have honestly recruited more than 120,000 girls in the past two years, the GSA’s suit recounted several instances of obvious misconduct—including one instance wherein a Cub Scouts “pack” in Illinois set up a recruitment drive using the Girl Scouts slogan and pictures of uniformed Girl Scouts. In another case, a Massachusetts Boy Scouts council posted a recruiting flyer on Facebook that depicted a Girl Scout wearing a signature “Brownie” uniform.

“Boy Scouts knew full well […] that SCOUT, SCOUTS and SCOUTING, when used in connection with girls’ services, could only create associations with Girl Scouts unless other distinguishing content referencing Boy Scouts of America appeared in advertising and promotional materials,” the lawsuit says.

Court papers indicate that the Girl Scouts are seeking monetary damages and renumeration for money spent trying to market and reiterate the organizational differences between both groups.


Girl Scouts rebuke Boy Scouts in escalating recruitment war

‘Highly damaging’: Girl Scouts accuse Boy Scouts of poaching their membership in latest filing of two-year legal battle

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