Girl Scouts to Boy Scouts: You Have to Keep the Word 'Boy'

GSUSA claims trademark infringement in new suit over gender-neutral 'scouts'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2018 5:33 AM CST
The vest of a Girl Scout is filled with badges and awards at a demonstration in Seattle on June 18, 2018.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(Newser) – The Boy Scouts program will soon have a new name, and a more "inclusive nature" as it allows girls into its ranks, but its sister group is rankled over the whole rebrand. Per MarketWatch and Fortune, a complaint filed by the Girl Scouts of the USA on Tuesday in New York federal court revolves around the word "scout" (and variations of it, like "scouts" or "scouting") and argues that the Boy Scouts of America—whose Boy Scouts program for 11- to 17-year-olds will soon be called Scouts BSA as it starts to admit girls—is making things confusing by using "scouts" in different forms without the gender-specific "boy." Cited in the complaint as an example: a marketing campaign introduced by the BSA earlier this year that used the tagline "Scout me in."

Usurping "scouts" only helps "marginalize the Girl Scouts Movement," the trademark infringement suit says, by leading people to think the Girl Scouts' programs or services are "not true or official 'Scouting' programs, but niche services with limited utility and appeal." The complaint adds that this murkiness is leading some parents to either mistakenly believe the Girl Scout and Boy Scouts have melded together, or caused some to sign their daughters up for girls programs in the BSA when they meant to sign up for the Girl Scouts, which the AP notes has seen a recent drop in membership. The BSA says it's "carefully" checking out the suit, which seeks monetary damages and an injunction on any trademark breaches, and that it thinks "there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve girls and boys in our communities." (Lead content has spurred a recent Boy Scouts recall.)

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