FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, Boy Scouts of America uniforms are displayed in the retail store at the headquarters for the French Creek Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Summit Township, Pa. Girl Scouts of the United States of America claim the century-old organization is in a "highly damaging" recruitment war with Boy Scouts of America after the group opened its core services to girls, leading to marketplace confusion and some girls unwittingly joining the Boy Scouts. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)

Girl Scouts rebuke Boy Scouts in escalating recruitment war

NEW YORK — The Girl Scouts are in a “highly damaging” recruitment war with the Boy Scouts after the latter opened its core services to girls, leading to marketplace confusion and some girls unwittingly joining the Boy Scouts, lawyers for the century-old Girl Scouts organization claim in court papers.

The competition, more conjecture than reality two years ago, has intensified as the Boy Scouts of America organization — which insists recruits pledge to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous and kind” — has unfairly recruited girls lately, according to claims in legal briefs filed on behalf of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

The lawyers filed papers in Manhattan federal court Thursday to repel an effort by the Boy Scouts to toss out before trial a trademark infringement lawsuit the Girl Scouts filed in 2018.

Last month, lawyers for the Boy Scouts asked a judge to reject claims that the Boy Scouts cannot use “scouts” and “scouting” in its recruitment of girls without infringing trademarks.

They called the lawsuit “utterly meritless.”

The Boy Scouts on Saturday pointed to legal arguments in which it blames the Girl Scouts for reacting to its expansion plans with “anger and alarm” and said the Girl Scouts launched a “ground war” to spoil plans by the Boy Scouts to include more girls.

In a statement, the Boy Scouts said it expanded program offerings for girls “after years of requests from families” who wanted their boys and girls both participating in its character and leadership programs or for other reasons, including a desire to become an Eagle Scout.

“We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the USA, and believe that all families and communities benefit from the opportunity to select the programs that best fit their needs,” the statement said.

In its filing, the Girl Scouts said the Boy Scouts’ marketing of expanded services for girls was “extraordinary and highly damaging to Girl Scouts” and had set off an “explosion of confusion.”

“As a result of Boy Scouts’ infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts,” the lawyers said, adding that this never occurred before 2018.

The Girls Scouts said they can prove there are “rampant instances of confusion and mistaken instances of association between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts” after the Boy Scouts targeted girls and their parents with marketing and recruiting communications in ways it never has before.

In its statement, though, the Boy Scouts said: “To imply that confusion is a prevailing reason for their choice is not only inaccurate – with no legally admissible instance of this offered to date in the case – but it is also dismissive of the decisions of more than 120,000 girls and young women who have joined Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA since the programs became available to them.”

“The parties’ programs, which have many similarities, are now directly competitive,” the Girls Scouts maintained.

The organization cited proof from a narrow subset of documents turned over by 19 of 250 local Boy Scout councils, including evidence that registration fees sometimes were returned to parents who mistakenly thought they registered girls for the Girl Scouts.

It said repeated instances of confusion and interference at the local level by the Boy Scouts was a tiny fraction of what was occurring nationwide.

Each of dozens of times the Girl Scouts complained about unfair marketing, the Boy Scouts responded by blaming individuals, churches or others for what they said was an isolated incident, the lawyers said.

“According to Boy Scouts, blame for the rampant marketplace confusion lies at everyone’s feet but its own,” they wrote.

Both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, like other major youth organizations, have seen declines in membership in recent years as competition grew pre-pandemic from sports leagues and busy family schedules.

In spring 2018, the Boy Scouts program for 11- to 17-year-olds announced it would change its name to Scouts BSA in early 2019. The parent organization, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts, a program serving children from kindergarten through fifth grade, kept their names.

The organization started admitting girls into the Cub Scouts in August 2018, and Scouts BSA began accepting girls in February, 2019, lawyers said.

Afterward, Boy Scouts councils and volunteers began using Girl Scouts’ intellectual property to recruit girls, employing targeted advertising utilizing terms such as “Scout, Scouts, Scouting, Scout Me In and Scouts BSA,” the lawyers wrote.

The Boy Scouts contend, though, that “undisputed evidence” proves that the Boy Scouts have used “Scout” alone for more than 100 years and in connection with the marketing of some co-ed youth services for nearly 50 years.

It said hundreds of thousands of pages of documents produced in the court case and more than 40 depositions of witnesses prove the Boy Scouts never engaged in trademark infringement or created consumer confusion.

The lawyers for Girl Scouts said Boy Scouts councils in Illinois acknowledged improperly using the Girl Scouts’ slogan in Cub Scout recruiting materials and pictures of Girl Scouts to promote a Boy Scouts “Scouts Sign-Up Night!”

They said a western Massachusetts Boy Scouts council posted a recruiting flyer on Facebook including a photograph of a girl depicted in her Girl Scouts Brownie uniform.

Meanwhile, Ohio Boy Scouts used the Girl Scouts trademark to try to get a local newspaper to write an article, suggesting a storyline entitled “Boy and Girl Scouts Looking for Members” even though the recruitment involved only the Boy Scouts, the lawyers said.

In Seattle, a Boy Scouts council used the Girl Scouts trademark in social media recruiting materials, the lawyers said.

They said confusion has skyrocketed among children, parents, schools and religious organizations and they cited examples in other states, including Florida, Minnesota, Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina and Hawaii.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Brett Salomons, of Salomons Commercial, and Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, in the CACAC's new temporary home. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s One Day Challenge returns

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre has announced its One Day Challenge is… Continue reading

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

A Suncor logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Thursday, May 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Body of worker whose bulldozer fell through ice on inactive tailings pond recovered

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Oilpatch giant Suncor says the body of a… Continue reading

A restaurant manager in Orlando used a sign to secretly ask an 11-year-old boy if he needs help from his family after they were spotted withholding food from him. (Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department)
WATCH: Restaurant manager uses secret note to ‘rescue’ child, says Orlando Police

The manager of an Orlando restaurant is receiving praise from police after… Continue reading

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will cripple struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

VICTORIA — A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,… Continue reading

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A young snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged mountain trail on Vancouver's north shore Thursday has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snowshoer dies after overnight search on Vancouver-area mountain: RCMP

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged… Continue reading

nunavut
‘It was joyous:’ Sun returns to some Nunavut communities for first time in weeks

IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier… Continue reading

People take photos through the extensive security surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Less pomp, very different circumstances as D.C. prepares to inaugurate Biden, Harris

WASHINGTON — Some pomp. Very different circumstances. Inauguration day is supposed to… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) and Nikolaj Ehlers (27) defend against Jansen Harkins (12) during scrimmage at their NHL training camp practice in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Winnipeg Jets cancel practice due to possible COVID-19 exposure

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have cancelled their practice today due to… Continue reading

Most Read