IRVING,TX – The year 2020 has been rough on Boy Scouts of America. Not only did they BSA get hit with over 90,000 sexual abuse claims last month, the Girl Scouts of America gave them a Christmas present by filing a lawsuit on Dec. 24. It seems the organization is also at odds with their scouting counterpart.
A lawsuit filed by the Girl Scouts of the United States of America says BSA infringed on their trademark when BSA began recruiting girls two years ago, leading to marketplace confusion and a feud with the girl’s organization.
The GSUSA complained about marketing practices they say were unfairly employed by BSA. The boy’s organization blamed individuals, churches or someone else for some isolated incidents.
Girl Scouts of the United States of America filed legal briefs last week claiming that ever since the Boy Scouts opened its membership to girls in 2018, the organization has unfairly recruited girls. The GSA said the efforts caused confusion among its potential membership.
The Associated Press reported that as a result of Boy Scouts’ infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts.
The filing is connected to a 2018 trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the organization seeking to prevent the Boy Scouts from using the terms “scouts” or “scouting.”
Lawyers for BSA filed papers in Manhattan Federal Court to stop an effort by the GSA to keep the boy’s organization from using “scouts or scouting,” in its recruitment of girls without infringing trademarks.
Cache Valley Daily reached out to the national office of BSA and they responded by saying their decision to expand their program offerings for girls came after years of requests from families who wanted the option of the BSA’s character-development and leadership-development programs for their children – boys and girls.
“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,” BSA said.
They said young people and families join the BSA for a variety of reasons– from a love of outdoor adventure, to personal connections to programs, and the goal of attaining the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.
“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 organization said.
The BSA’s motion said the GSUSA’s lawsuit is meritless and should be dismissed for a host of reasons. In fact, GSUSA voluntarily dismissed some of its claims against the BSA on November 19 with prejudice, which states claims were without merit. The BSA’s motion for summary judgment claims the remainder of GSUSA’s arguments are also appropriate for dismissal now.
“Despite two years having passed since the BSA began welcoming girls into these two programs, and with well over 120,000 girls having since enrolled, GSUSA has not substantiated a single admissible instance of actual confusion attributable to the [trademarks] at issue,” BSA said.
Adding to the pressure coming from Girl Scouts, BSA is facing tens of thousands of legal claims of sex-abuse.
In November, over 90,000 former scouters and attorneys filed sex-abuse claims against the BSA, the organization said it must reach a settlement in its ongoing bankruptcy case or it may no longer have the cash to continue operating.
Those suits could put a big dent in the BSA’s $1 billion in assets.
The New York Times reported in the organization’s most recent tax filings, they have $680 million in stocks and bonds, $55 million in the bank and property worth $102 million.
Its local councils, however, own hundreds of additional camps, reservations, and other properties across the country not included in the tax filings.
The organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February then the pandemic hit, stopping most scouting activities and hitting the organization harder in the pocketbook.
Revenues are down 50 percent, said attorney Jessica Boulter who represents the BSA. She said the bankruptcy has already cost the 110-year-old organization $41 million. Due to their financial woes the organization laid of 20 percent of their full-time workforce.
“We simply can’t deny the fact that COVID and the bankruptcy together have essentially created a perfect storm,” Boelter told Samantha Schmidt of the Washington Post. “Simply stated, we’re going to run out of money if we linger any longer in bankruptcy.”
BSA released a statement after the number of victims was made public.
“We are devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who have come forward. We are heartbroken that we cannot undo their pain,” the statement said. “The response we have seen from survivors has been gut-wrenching,” the organization added. “We are deeply sorry.”