Early Tuesday morning, the Girl Scouts of the USA filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America for trademark infringement. The suit followed an announcement in May that the Boy Scouts will be dropping the word “boy” from the name of one of their flagship programs. While the parent company will remain Boy Scouts of America, they’re rebranding their middle and high school program to Scouts BSA in February 2019.
According to the complaint, which was filed in Manhattan federal court, the Boy Scouts do “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.'”
It’s just the latest development in the ongoing dispute between the two organizations, which began in October of 2017 when the Boy Scouts first began allowing girls into some of their younger Cub Scout programs in an attempt to be more inclusive and offset declining membership numbers. To coincide with the re-brand next year, the BSA plans to open up their 11- to 17-year-old programs to girls as well.
However, the Girl Scouts, who have remained a girls-only organization, argue that the recently proposed name change will only further confuse people, stating that “parents interested in signing up for Girl Scouts programs have instead mistakenly signed up for the new girls’ programs offered by BSA.” They also claim that a switch to Scouts BSA will “damage the goodwill of GSUSA’s Girl Scouts trademarks and erode its core brand identity.”
Yesterday, the Boy Scouts responded to the lawsuit, stating, “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 youth in our communities.” They are currently “carefully” reviewing the lawsuit.