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Girl Scouts Take on Boy Scouts Over Name Change

  • Nov 12 2018

The Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America have become about as American as apple pie. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard of either organization before. It goes without saying that both organizations have worked hard to create the equity involved in their respective brand names. 

Trademark Infringement

The Girl Scouts of America (“Girl Scouts”) has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court against the Boy Scouts of America (“Boy Scouts”) due to the latter organization deciding to drop the word “boy” from its name in an effort to also attract girls.

The complaint, filed in Manhattan federal court states that the Boy Scouts of America’s program “does not have a right under either federal or New York law to use terms like scouts or scouting by themselves in connection with services offered to girls, or to rebrand itself as ‘the Scouts.’”

Creating Confusion

According to the complaint, “such misconduct will not only cause confusion among the public, damage the goodwill of GSUSA’s Girl Scouts trademarks, and erode its core brand identity, but it will also marginalize the Girl Scouts Movement by causing the public to believe that GSUSA’s extraordinarily successful services are not true or official ‘Scouting’ programs, but niche services with limited utility and appeal.”

With today’s busy family schedules, often involving participation in multiple sports leagues, the number of memberships for organizations such as the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have continued to decline. The Girl Scouts argues that only it has “the right to use the Girl Scouts and Scouts trademark with leadership development services for girls.”

A Place for Everyone

The Boy Scouts do not take the lawsuit lightly, explaining that it plans to review the complaint very “carefully.” It released a statement explaining that it believes that there is still a place for both organizations to thrive. “We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the USA, and believe that there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve girls and boys in our community.”

In May, the Boy Scouts announced it would change its name to Scouts BSA in February 2019. Despite the name change, the parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, as will the Cub Scouts, the program for children from kindergarten through fifth grade, will also remain. Though girls have already begun to join the Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA will also begin accepting girls in 2019.


The Girl Scouts’ complaint alleges that throughout the country, families, schools and communities have been told that GSUSA and BSA have merged or even that GSUSA no longer exists. It further states that “Parents interested in signing up for Girl Scouts’ programs have instead mistakenly signed up for the new girls’ programs offered by BSA.”

The Girl Scouts are seeking an injunction preventing the Boy Scouts from using the word Scouts on its own without use of the word “Boy,” as well as monetary damages.

Posted in: Trademarks

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