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Boy Scouts threaten to sue Oakland-based nonprofit for using 'scouts' in name

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  • Boy Scouts threaten to sue Oakland-based nonprofit for using 'scouts' in name

    Boy Scouts threaten to sue Oakland-based nonprofit for using 'scouts' in name

    By Paul T. Rosynsky
    Oakland Tribune
    Posted: 08/23/2013 05:55:41 AM PDT | Updated: about 11 hours ago


    OAKLAND -- Youth groups beware: Don't use "scouts" in your name unless you want a fight from one of the largest youth organizations in the country. Oakland-based nonprofit Hacker Scouts, a group that fosters science, engineering and technology learning, is learning that lesson.
    Less than a year after the youth organization was formed, the Boy Scouts of America sent a letter demanding the removal of "scouts" from their name and threatening a lawsuit if Hacker Scouts refused to honor the request.
    The Boy Scouts of America says it's simply trying to "protect its intellectual property and brand." Hacker Scouts representatives say they're being bullied.

    "Scouting has been around a lot longer than the boy scouts," said Samantha Cook, founder and executive director of Hacker Scouts. "It seems ridiculous that they can own that word."

    http://tinyurl.com/kejr9d2

  • #2
    Yeah, I'm not a lawyer but I believe the BSA has to send the cease and desist along with the threat to sue to protect the brand. If you opened a restaurant and started offering Big Macs on the menu, you can bet McDonalds would be beating down your door as soon as they found out. Not that anybody would confuse a real burger with a McDonald's burger but you get the idea. Not great press though for the BSA. Going to be a tough couple of years coming up.

    Comment


    • Basementdweller
      Basementdweller commented
      Editing a comment
      Who cares as long as my boys keep showing up to the meetings and the unit continues to grow?????

  • #3
    My understanding is the did exactly that to the Baden Powell Scout Association which quickly became Baden Powell Service Association. Just as Royal Rangers, Awana, Campfire don't use scouts.....Nor will what ever Oh my Honor comes up with ....

    Millennial...

    Comment


    • #4
      There are so many other names that a youth group of 'hackers' could use. Why choose 'Scouts' if they weren't trying to get mileage from BSA's brand?

      (Note: This is probably the first and last time that I'll ever agree with Irving on something!)

      Comment


      • DigitalScout
        DigitalScout commented
        Editing a comment
        I think the reason the call themselves "scouts" is because the kids can earn patches for learning certain skills (chemistry, electronic circuits, animation, rocketeering, etc.). It's a bunch of kids learning STEM, not a dedicated outdoor program and I'm not sure who could possibly be confused by the BSA branding.

    • #5
      Perhaps this ia a legal reminder to the alternative scout group On My Honor which is "Birthing a Scouting Alternative" at their first national convention Sep 6-7. At this convention, they will reveal their new name. http://www.onmyhonor.net/

      I agree with this editorial by Make Magazine http://makezine.com/2013/08/22/boy-scouts-do-your-best/ - BSA acting like a business and that is meant in a bad way. The editorial concludes:

      Why can’t the BSA treat this as not a legal or business issue, but a moral one?

      This is about kids. This is about organizations that want to emulate Robert Baden-Powell’s goal of providing a framework for young people to develop character through learning self-sufficiency and making things themselves. This is about understanding there can be multiple paths to the same goal, and that there needs to be a variety of organizations to allow all kids to find the path that’s right for them.

      This is about realizing that doing the best we can for our kids is more important than protecting a corporation’s branding.

      Our challenge to the Boy Scouts of America is then to do what’s morally right here: work out a licensing framework for organizations that want to call themselves “scouts” that protects the BSA’s business interests while reinforcing the core goal of scouting, which is to help kids. The BSA has seen across-the-board declines in memberships recently (nearly 10 percent drop in registered youths in the last eight years while the overall population of kids has increased), and increasing the number of organizations in this space is just the kind of diversification that could ensure that more kids than ever come to value scouting, just not Scouting®. I guarantee that the good will this would engender towards their organization would be worth far more than what they think they’re protecting by fighting with those who have the very same goal.

      I wonder if National will go to the dogs next?
      http://www.boston.com/community/pets..._in_22_states/

      My $0.02

      Comment


      • RememberSchiff
        RememberSchiff commented
        Editing a comment
        The Hacker Scouts are offering to pay a license fee for use of the term "Scouts".

        With more alternative scout groups, I wonder if that Congressional charter will be revised as much has changed since June 15, 1916.

      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        I wouldn't get your hopes up for the House, Senate and President to agree on anything for the foreseeable future.

      • RememberSchiff
        RememberSchiff commented
        Editing a comment
        You are probably right.

    • #6
      Or, is it dishonorable to let the public associate the largest and oldest movements in the USA with your novelty? Even if that movement is in its nadir, isn't it more trustworthy to take a name that doesn't force the association?
      Last edited by qwazse; 08-23-2013, 06:25 PM.

      Comment


      • #7
        "The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies:

        1) The ability of boys to do things for themselves and others,
        2) To train them in Scoutcraft, and
        3) To teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues,

        using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916."
         
        Originally posted by RememberSchiff View Post
        With more alternative scout groups, I wonder if that Congressional charter will be revised as much has changed since June 15, 1916.
         
        Really? Which of the 1916 requirements (marked in red on the following URL), are you glad we "revised" out of our side of the agreement?
         
        http://inquiry.net/advancement/tf-1st_require_1911.htm
         
        Isn't that why we sell Boy Scout camps?
         
        William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt said that:
         
        The Program = The Requirements
         
        The point of specifying the exact date of June 15, 1916, is so after Congress imposes our corporation on the American people as the absolute monopoly on Scouting (defined as Scoutcraft), we can not just decide on June 16th to replace (or redefine) Scoutcraft with, say, "leadership" skills (or "hacker" skills).
         
        To the BSA's credit, we waited longer than a day to do that!
         
        Yours at 300 feet,
        Kudu
        http://kudu.net


        Comment


        • #8
          Kudu, Not sure I understand your question. In the unlikely event, that Congress would revisit the BSA charter, here goes.

          "The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies and other youth organizations:

          1) The ability of youth to do things for themselves and others,
          2) To train them in Scoutcraft, and life skills.
          3) To teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues,

          using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916. probably remove as methods change over time

          30904 Powers
          (2) The corporation may dispose in any manner of the whole property of the corporation only with the written consent and affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the corporation.
          Are "members" the CO's or scout and scouters? Rewrite! I sure as hell did not vote to shutdown Schiff Reservation!

          30905 Exclusive rights... have "scout" and "scouting" become genericized like aspirin and escalator?
          The corporation has the exclusive right to use emblems, badges, descriptive or designating marks, and words or phrases the corporation adopts.
          This section does not affect any vested rights.

          What if another youth group, say the "1911 Scouts" formed and decided to use the requirements listed in your link? I can't understand anyone complaining about their name or program.

          My $0.01,

          Comment


          • Kahuna
            Kahuna commented
            Editing a comment
            I would fight to the death over changing the charter to say "youth" in place of "boys." The BSA is about boys. Period. In programs that are coed, the girls are there because it improves the program for boys. We have to focus on what we do and that is to build character and promote citizenship in BOYS.

          • Kudu
            Kudu commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, I'd fight to the death over diluting Scoutcraft with "life skills," and removing "the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916."

            But we did that already, of course.

          • RememberSchiff
            RememberSchiff commented
            Editing a comment
            Re-sync the current program with the original charter of 1916.
            versus
            Re-sync the 1916 charter with the current program or what the current program should be.

            What i meant by "life skills" was to emphasize skills that should be taught to achieve "self reliance"
            1. Vocational skills - we need to go back to teaching the proper use of hand and power tools rather than prohibit their use out of ignorance and fear.
            2. Fund-raise by selling our scout-made products and services - not popcorn, discount tickets, candy (if I see OA members selling candy at a camporee...)
            3. Solo experiences - we need to get back to allowing scouts to plan and execute their own hikes and campouts without tag-along adults. I would like to see scout-only patrols treking at Philmont, etc.

            I think girls are here to be scouts, same as the boys.
            My $0.02
            Last edited by RememberSchiff; 08-29-2013, 05:27 AM.

        • #9
          RememberSchiff, regardless of who the "members of the corporation" are (and I'm fairly sure that does not include you or me), notice it says "the whole property of the corporation", emphasis on the word "whole." The way I understand that language, it does not mean a sale of one piece of property (like Schiff), or even some pieces of property, that means a sale (or other "disposition") of ALL of the property of the corporation. That would occur if the BSA was essentially "going out of business" and selling ALL of its property to some other entity. THAT would require a majority vote of the "members", whoever they may be. It would probably also mean that the top brass at National lose their hundreds-of-thousands-a-year salaries, so I don't think you will be seeing it happening any day soon.

          Comment


          • #10
            I agree with you. I was trying emphasize (with an imperfect example) that "members" should be clearly defined.

            Comment


            • #11
              I'm more concerned that they are marketing a program to youth using the term "hacker" in it.

              Comment


              • st0ut717
                st0ut717 commented
                Editing a comment
                I think you need to learning about hacking and hackers before you make the determinations that it is not suitable for youths.

              • dedkad
                dedkad commented
                Editing a comment
                StOut, you are right. There does appear to be several broad definitions of the term. Unfortunately, the one that gets the most press is the one where someone breaks into a computer security system just to mess things up, costing businesses and taxpayers millions. Kind of like people who do graffiti. Leave their mark and damn those who are left to clean up the mess. But then, graffiti advocates are trying to soften that definition too, but calling them "artists" now.

            • #12
              BSA has to protect the brand or will lose it. Simple fact of life.

              Comment


              • qwazse
                qwazse commented
                Editing a comment
                BP, trademark infringement does not stand on the exclusivity of a particular word. Rather if there is a "likelihood of confusion that consumers will believe the products or services originated from the original trademark owner" (wikipedia, citing Harvard Law Journal).
                All BSA has to prove is that a consumer, hearing the name of an organization with "scouts" in it, is likely to make the association with the "Boy Scouts of America." This is easier to do with a youth movement named "Hacker Scouts" than with a hobby group called "Dog Scouts" or, hypothetically a car club called "International Harvester Scout Owners".

                They won't look foolish at all. My wife's company had to change it's name for an even more obtuse association with the acronym of a pre-existing company. The likelihood of overlapping consumers was very small indeed, and even though the "younger" company had been doing business for many years -- and only a few years less than the "older" company. Still the older trademark held sway.

              • Kudu
                Kudu commented
                Editing a comment
                qwazse commented:

                "...hypothetically a car club called 'International Harvester Scout Owners'."

                I believe that the BSA went to court over the use of "Scout" as a vehicle name. Can anyone a Google a reference to it?

                They did sue the GSUSA over the term "Girl Scouts:"

                http://www.inquiry.net/adult/bsa_vs_gsusa.htm

              • Peregrinator
                Peregrinator commented
                Editing a comment
                The BSA has an exclusive right to "scout" and "scouting" not because it has those terms trademarked - BadenP is right that they are likely un-trademarkable - but because of their Congressional charter. Google "Wrenn v BSA" for details.

                The issue with "Hacker Scouts" is that they are a youth organization that has "scouts" in its name, even though they are not a "scouting" organization by any stretch of the imagination.

            • #13
              Actually, I believe trade mark law requires the BSA (or any other trade mark holder) to take aggressive action or loose it's trade mark. The BSA doesn't really have a choice here.

              Comment


              • BadenP
                BadenP commented
                Editing a comment
                Rick You can not trademark any word that is in common usage." scouts" is such a word used in the military, outdoor groups, etc. It is not a word exclusive to the BSA so they can take it to court but they will lose and look foolish in the process. The last thing the BSA needs is more bad press. I agree that Hacker scouts is a stupid name for that group to pick.

              • Builder
                Builder commented
                Editing a comment
                2 words:
                Windows
                Word
                both of which have been trademarked by Microsoft and are "in common usage".

                OK another word (can I type that without violating MS trademark?):
                "context"

            • #14
              And "Hacker Jackers" or "Hacker Jacks" sounds a lot cooler than "Hacker Scouts".

              Comment


              • st0ut717
                st0ut717 commented
                Editing a comment
                hacking is the art of learning how a system works and discovering flaws that may be exploited.

                Jacking is taking over a system as in Hi-Jack.

                Cracking is gaining unauthorized access to a system.

                They probobly would rather shy away from the black hats

            • #15
              Maintaining copyright and trade mark is why BSA and GSUSA have become a lot more litigious in the last five years.

              Comment


              • st0ut717
                st0ut717 commented
                Editing a comment
                Good thing we have that Law merit badge

              • Brewmeister
                Brewmeister commented
                Editing a comment
                "Discuss with your counselor the injuries that can happen while practicing law...."

              • st0ut717
                st0ut717 commented
                Editing a comment
                lolololollolololol
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