If you thought the tactics used by Girl Scouts to push their delicious cookies are aggressive, don’t mess with their intellectual property.
In a suit filed this week in New York, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America alleges that the recent expansion by the Boy Scouts of America to allow girls into their organization is a bridge too far. The lawsuit brings a number of related claims, including trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition.
Starting early next year, the Boy Scouts are set to begin admitting girls and in doing so, will adopt the brand Scouts BSA. The Girl Scouts assert that this rebranding destroys the previously existing gender distinction between the two groups. It is alleged that confusion will arise when parents go to sign their children up believing that the separate groups have combined or that the Girl Scouts have been eliminated. The complaint also notes that by eroding the Girl Scouts brand, the overall Girl Scouts Movement will be marginalized.
To substantiate its claims, the Girl Scouts refer to various Boy Scouts troops that have advertised forming a “Girl Scouts BSA” or “Girl Scout Troop.” Other local Boy Scouts troops have used the Girl Scouts’ trademark advertisements and provided quotes from the founder of the Girl Scouts in promoting the Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts also assert that the adoption of the slogan “Scout Me In” and reference to members of the Boy Scouts as simply “Scouts” is problematic.
The Boy Scouts have responded in a statement applauding the Girl Scouts and contending that there is potential for both organization to serve boys and girls. This optimistic view contradicts the Girl Scouts’ assessment of the Boy Scouts brand change, which they have repeatedly ask the Boy Scouts to not do.
The suit will unfold against a backdrop of diminishing enrollment and involvement in youth organizations.
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