A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit in which the Girl Scouts alleged that the Boy Scouts had created branding confusion and harmed their recruiting efforts by using words such as “scouts” and “scouting ” in their own marketing materials.
Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled that the Boy Scouts of America could describe their activities as “scouting” without reference to gender and that “there was no question to be tried”.
“Boy Scouts adopted the terms Scouting to accurately describe the co-ed nature of programming, not to confuse or exploit the reputation of Girl Scouts,” Judge Hellerstein wrote in his ruling.
“Such branding is consistent with the Scout branding the Boy Scouts have used for a century, including in its co-ed programs that have existed since the 1970s,” he wrote.
He wrote that the term “Scout” described both Boy Scout and Girl Scout programming.
“The Boy Scouts’ decision to become coeds, while affecting the operations of the Girl Scouts, does not demonstrate bad faith,” the judge said, adding that “a reasonable jury could not find that the adoption of the terms Scouts was in bad faith”. .”
Justice Hellerstein concluded by calling for the dismissal of the lawsuit, which he called “serious, contentious and costly” litigation.
In a statement Thursday, the Girl Scouts said they were “deeply disappointed” with the judge’s ruling and planned to appeal.
“This case aims to ensure that parents are not misled into thinking that Girl Scouts are part of or are the same as Boy Scouts,” the organization added.
In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America said they were “pleased that the court upheld the BSA’s position and summarily dismissed” the Girl Scouts’ claims.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, was one of recent legal and public relations skirmishes between the two organizations.
The lawsuit came a year after the Boy Scouts announced that it would widely accept girls into its programs. The Boy Scouts said that after years of listening to families who wanted the option of character development and leadership programs run by the organization, it decided to accept the girls.
A 2020 federal court filing also accused the Boy Scouts of engaging in unfair competition and trademark infringement. The group cited the Boy Scouts’ “Scout Me In” recruiting campaign, which featured girls in advertisements.
In their marketing, some local Boy Scout groups have included the phrase “Girl Scouting,” which further violates longstanding trademarks granted to Girl Scouts by Congress, according to the filing. The Girl Scouts called the overtures “very damaging.”
The Boy Scouts organization, which was incorporated in 1910, began to accept girls as it saw its membership dwindle in recent decades. In 2017, the group said it had 2.3 million members between the ages of 7 and 21 and nearly one million volunteers across the United States and its territories.
At its peak in the 1970s, the organization had approximately five million members.
In 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection. The three-week trial in Delaware over the Boy Scouts’ plan to reorganize into bankruptcy has entered final arguments. At stake is the approval of the organization’s plan to compensate tens of thousands of men who say they were sexually abused as Scouts.