By: Tiara Proctor
In recent trademark news, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have been fighting over who has the right to use the term “Scouts”. The dispute stems from the Boys Scouts decision to begin allowing girls into the organization to fight back against declining enrollment numbers in light of the stigma that Boy Scouts are non-inclusive. In their efforts to be more inclusive the Boy Scouts have not only begun allowing girls to participate but they have even allowed gay scout leaders and transgender boys to participate in the organization. All of these decisions surrounding gender/sexuality inclusion have led to the most controversial decision and the crux of our discussion, the name change from Boy Scouts of America to Scouts BSA.
The main claim raised by the Girl Scouts is that due to the name change and the recent acceptance of girls into the Boy Scouts organization, there is a likely hood of confusion between the organizations and the marks. While both marks use the term SCOUT, the distinguishing factor has been that neither organization could use the term SCOUT with the identifier of GIRL or BOY in front of it. Nevertheless, the Girls Scouts have a claim for actual confusion in the market. The complaint from the Girl Scouts to the Boys Scouts provides examples of how the Boy Scouts, rather Scouts BSA, have consistently used the word “girl” and “scout” together in advertising to make consumers aware that the organization is accepting girls. The biggest issue has come at the local level where local troops have had girls join the Scouts BSA believing that they were joining the Girl Scouts.
As the dispute continues between the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts for control over the mark SCOUTS, the Girl Scouts have registered for a trademark to take ownership of the term. An approval of the trademark application would require the Boy Scouts, Scouts BSA, to get permission from Girls Scouts to use the term SCOUTS in its name. Although, it is highly unlikely that the Girl Scouts would authorize such use of the term SCOUTS and even more unlikely that the Girl Scouts will succeed in the registration of the mark SCOUTS. For more information and to continue following this dispute check out the complaint at the link below.