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Girl Scouts accuse Boy Scouts of unfair competition in trademark disputes

The recruiting arguments are remarkably familiar: Character building and leadership opportunities for girls await in age-old recognition programs.

But in a case filed in federal court last week, the Girl Scouts of the United States said it was not their recruiting message, but that of a rival organization – the Boy Scouts of America – that they accused of engaging in unfair competition and trademark infringement.

The Girl Scouts ‘filing on Christmas Eve in Manhattan U.S. District Court was the latest salute in a legal and public relations feud between the two organizations, which was sparked after the Boy Scouts’ announcement in October. 2017 that she would widely. accept girls in its programs.

The file said the Boy Scouts had removed gender language from some of its marketing materials which only referred to Boy Scouts and Boy Scouting, a violation of a congressional charter that governs the organization.

The filing, which was part of a lawsuit filed by the Girl Scouts in 2018, also indicated that the Boy Scouts’ Scout Me In recruitment campaign featured girls in advertisements. Some local Boy Scout groups have used the term “girl scouting,” the file says, further violating the long-standing trademarks granted to Girl Scouts by Congress. The Girl Scouts called the openings “very damaging”.

“Over the past century, the Girl Scouts brand has come to be regarded as designating the source of scouting services for girls, ”the file says. “Now, because of what the Boy Scouts did, that distinctiveness is slowly eroding and the law offers Girl Scouts a remedy to end such loss of distinctiveness.”

The Boy Scouts of America denied engaging in deceptive marketing to increase its enrollment of girls, saying in a statement on Sunday that young people and their families were drawn to the organization for a variety of reasons, including a love of adventure. outdoors, personal ties to the programs. and the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.

“To imply that confusion is a predominant reason for their choice is not only incorrect – without any legally permissible example of this offered to date in the case,” said the Boy Scouts, “but it is also to overturn the decisions of over 120,000 girls and young women who have joined Cub Scouts or BSA Scouts since the programs became available to them.

The Boy Scout organization’s decision to accept girls came as its membership declined in recent decades. In 2017, the organization said it had 2.3 million members aged 7 to 21 and nearly one million volunteers across the United States and its territories. That was less than half of the estimated five million members the Boy Scouts, formed in 1910, had at their peak in the 1970s. Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection .

The change in membership guidelines immediately sparked tensions between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, with a National Girl Scouts executive claiming the organization was “blinded” by the ad and girls thriving in groups entirely. female.

A little over a year later, the Girl Scouts sued the Boy Scouts in federal court in Manhattan for trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition, unfair interference with potential economic advantage, and deceptive business practices. In the lawsuit, the Girl Scouts said parents mistakenly enrolled girls in new programs offered by Boy Scouts instead of Girl Scouts.

The Boy Scouts sought to have the lawsuit dismissed and said it lacked merit.

In its statement on Sunday, the Boy Scouts said they decided to accept girls into their programs after receiving years of requests from families who wanted the option of organization-run character development and leadership programs.

“We applaud all organizations that build character and leadership in children, including Girl Scouts in the United States, and believe that all families and communities benefit from the opportunity to select the programs that best suit their needs. needs, ”the Boy Scouts said.

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