In a complaint Tuesday, the Girl Scouts sued the Boy Scouts for trademark infringement and unfair competition, arising from the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to include girls, and to use gender-neutral terms like “scout,” that will allegedly confuse the public. From the complaint’s introduction:
[The] core gender distinction between the two organizations and their use of the term SCOUTS and variations thereof has been altered by BSA’s recent decision to offer all of its services to both boys and girls of all ages for the first time in its long history.
BSA is now trying to alter its core brand identity from BOY SCOUTS to SCOUTS, through the use of communicative elements like the slogan “Scout Me In” and the new name by which it will refer to its best known Boy Scout program – “Scouts BSA” with members being called “Scouts.”
BSA does not have the 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” and thereby falsely communicate to the American public that it is now the organization exclusively associated with leadership development services offered under that mark to girls. 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.
The case is before Judge Hellerstein.