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Girls vs Boys in US scouting trademark dispute

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In a recently submitted legal complaint lodged in an American court, the Girl Scouts of the USA have filed a trademark infringement claim against the Boy Scouts of America after the latter organisation recently announced that it would be dropping the word ‘Boy’ from its title and start accepting girls to join the organisation. The Boy Scouts, which accepts children aged between 11 and 17, announced the name change in May this year in connection with its new Scout Me In campaign featuring boys and girls.

The Scout Movement, founded by British Army officer Robert Baden-Powell in 1907, has spread globally in its 111 year history, with an overall aim to support young people from all walks of life in their physical, mental and spiritual development. Beginning as an association for boys and traditionally with a big emphasis on outdoor activities and skills, the scouting movement has grown to include three major age groups for boys - Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Rover Scout. In 1910, a new organization, the Girl Guides, was created for girls with a similar three age group structure including Brownie Guide, Girl Guide and Girl Scout and Ranger Guide.

The legal action, which seeks a permanent injunction against trademark infringement in addition to a range of damages for the alleged dilution of the Girl Scouts trademark, states that the Boy Scouts do not have a monopoly over terms such as “scouts” or “scouting”, and its decision to rebrand its program Scouts BSA and to start accepting older girls would damage the Girl Scouts brand by marginalising their aims and activities. The Girl Scouts claim that there has already been confusion with regard to the differences between the organisations, claiming that many communities and schools throughout the United States already think that the Girls Scouts have either ceased activities altogether or have formally merged with the Boy Scouts.

The complaint, filed in a court in Manhattan, states that:

Only GSUSA has the right to use the Girl Scouts and Scouts trademarks with leadership development services for girls”

In response to the claims, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts said:

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 communities.”

If you are thinking about suing another company but are worried about the costs of resolving the dispute or going to court, Advantage Litigation Services can help. We have vast experience navigating the different ways of funding commercial dispute resolution and are best placed to help you identify the most appropriate funding option and litigation protection that will best benefit you and your business. Click here to contact us or call 0800 160 1298 to discuss how we can help you manage the risks and find a funding option that works for you.

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