Boy Scouts Defeat Girl Scouts’ Trademark Lawsuit Over Co-ed Scouting

Boy Scouts Defeat Girl Scouts' Trademark Lawsuit Over Co-ed Scouting Boy Scouts Defeat Girl Scouts' Trademark Lawsuit Over Co-ed Scouting Colleen Fanning, left, and Amy Miseli participate in a ceremony recognizing the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts in the Pacific Harbors Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Tacoma, Washington, on Feb. 8, 2021. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Blake Brittain Thursday, 07 April 2022 12:58 PM

The Boy Scouts of America's use of the word "Scouting" to advertise co-ed programs does not violate the Girl Scouts' trademark rights, a Manhattan federal court ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said a lawsuit by the Girl Scouts over the term was based on fear of competition from the Boy Scouts, and the Boy Scouts has the right to use "Scouts" and "Scouting" without reference to gender.

The Girl Scouts said in a statement that the group was "deeply disappointed" by the ruling and planned to appeal. The Boy Scouts did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hellerstein had said at a September hearing that he planned to rule for the Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scouts announced in 2017 that it would allow girls to join and later launched an ad campaign for co-ed scouting called "Scout Me In." It changed the name of its main scouting program to "Scouts BSA" and officially started welcoming girls in 2019.

The Girl Scouts sued in 2018, alleging the Boy Scouts' use of "Scouts" and "Scouting" to market to girls violates its trademarks. It said the rebrand created confusion and threatened to marginalize the group.

The Boy Scouts has called the lawsuit part of a Girl Scouts "ground war" to counter its entry into girls' scouting.

Both organizations have lost significant membership in recent years, and the Boy Scouts is trying to finalize a proposed $2.7 billion settlement of thousands of sex abuse claims in bankruptcy court.

Hellerstein said in his ruling that there was no trademark confusion, and that the Girl Scouts' lawsuit was not based on trademark concerns but out of "fear for their competitive position in a market with gender-neutral options for scouting."