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Do think Boy Scouts of America Would Survive without Congressional Charter

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  • Do think Boy Scouts of America Would Survive without Congressional Charter

    What do you Think Would Happen?

    Do you Think they Would evolve to be More like Scouting Programs in other Countries?

    Myself I hope So..
    Amazing-ling I don't hear much about them having all these problems America does with Co-Ed Units at any age.

  • #2
    I think BSA would survive. It would, however, face stronger competition with that element of 'protection' removed, but whatever program(s) presented the greatest merit to the marketplace would survive, perhaps prosper. This is one of my principle elements of encouragement for Trail Life: they have taken the initiative and put is all on the line. Good for them.

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    • #3
      Last survival manual I read mentioned nothing about needing an act of congress.

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      • #4
        How can BSA's survival depend on what most people don't even know about?

        Stosh

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        • #5
          Are the trademarks ("Scout", "Eagle Scout", "Merit Badge") tied to the congressional charter, or are they a separate entity? If so, I could see some dilution/confusion with pop-up groups, and parents getting confused/disappointed with joining "competing" groups that made their structure look like ours. Otherwise, no.

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          • #6
            "Scout" by itself, as well as "scouting," are probably too generic to stand on their own as trademarks (the BSA doesn't even claim the former as a trademark) without the protection of the Congressional charter.

            "Do you Think they Would evolve to be More like Scouting Programs in other Countries?"

            Other countries typically have more than one scouting association. Aside from Canada, I don't know of a country other than the U.S. in which only the "official" WOSM-affiliated entity is allowed to use the word "scout." Look at France, Germany, even the UK.

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            • #7
              Stosh: agree. Minus the congressional charter might even make Scouting better if they had to compete. Do you think that Trail Life has made BSA look more closely at their program?

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              • #8
                I don't think it's a matter of looking closer at their programming in as much as I see the political fallout of this whole issue of bad press. I think their efforts to stay relevant to a non-agrarian society has caused a tilt towards the copying of other programs rather than trying to stay with their unique setup. Our culture has spent an enormous amount of time protecting itself from the natural world from where it resides that to venture out into the backyard is a great adventure for most people. Decks, fire pits, park like lawns, all give the illusion of outdoors-ness without having to remove oneself from the comfort of indoor-ness. Even those who venture beyond the property line into a "campground" still must retain the city like environment with all of its amenities while remaining within the confines of a massive Class A motorhome or 5th wheeler with multiple pullouts. Those that canoe and kayak, maybe do the biking all manage to find the comforts of a warm shower and soft bed for the evening.

                Boy Scout camps now tout Dining Halls, and cabins, and a whole host of opportunities to getaway from it all yet not,... really.

                They haven't yet adopted the game room mentality, but I'm thinking it hasn't been kicked around somewhere here and there in the past few years.

                While it may remain relatively old-fashioned with it's modern contrivances, it still holds many back as being no longer a part of real life. Kinda like Disneyland, nice place to visit, but no one really lives there. There are a lot of other "activities" out there that relate better to the modern society in which we live and Scouting just ain't it.

                Trail Life is pretty much just focused on a single issue, but still falls prey to the same problems of Scouting in general. It's kinda like the multiplicity of Christian Churches. There's one on every corner and they all think they have all the right answers.

                The interesting thing about the paranoia of the BSA is that they are the only ones on this particular road and don't know it. Others might be thinking about doing a bit of competition here, but fighting over a dead horse isn't going to garner any lasting satisfaction even if they do win.

                Stosh

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                • #9
                  The BSA would still be incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia (unless they decided to move their corporate registration elsewhere) and would still be able to protect their service marks and badges (though they would have to actually trademark them). About the only thing they would lose would be the "bragging rights" but with polls showing public support of Congress below 10%, does anyone really want those bragging rights?


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Peregrinator View Post
                    "Scout" by itself, as well as "scouting," are probably too generic to stand on their own as trademarks (the BSA doesn't even claim the former as a trademark) without the protection of the Congressional charter.

                    "Do you Think they Would evolve to be More like Scouting Programs in other Countries?"

                    Other countries typically have more than one scouting association. Aside from Canada, I don't know of a country other than the U.S. in which only the "official" WOSM-affiliated entity is allowed to use the word "scout." Look at France, Germany, even the UK.

                    That might be the case but the WOSM affiliated entity in each case has the overwhelming majority of scouts. In the UK The Scout Association has about 570K members. Its difficult to get exact numbers for the more minor associations but my understanding is that in each case they are in the low thousands. In Germany my understanding is that some of the non WOSM associations have actually bow become part of WOSM with a new umbrella body set up to cover all of them.

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                    • #11
                      In France, for example, the Fédération du scoutisme Français (WOSM/WAGGGS) has about 135,000 members in five associations.

                      The Conférence Française de Scoutisme (non-WOSM) has about 35,000 members in three associations.

                      The Scouts Unitaires de France (non-WOSM) have about 23,000 members.

                      These are only the organizations that have recognition from the French government. There are a bunch of smaller associations as well without recognition. So yes, the non-WOSM organizations are smaller than the WOSM organization but not insignificant.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CalicoPenn View Post
                        The BSA would still be... able to protect their service marks and badges (though they would have to actually trademark them).
                        Actually they already do trademark them; see http://www.scouting.org/licensing/Pr...20Listing.aspx. What makes it a little complicated is that some "marks" are registered (the ones with the R in the circle) and some are claimed as "common-law" (unregistered) trademarks (the TM symbol). It is interesting to look at the list and see what is registered and what is unregistered. "Boy Scouts of America" and BSA are registered, but "Boy Scout" is unregistered. "Cub Scouts" is registered, but "Cub Scout" is unregistered, and "Boy Scouts" (with the "s", but without "of America") is not on the list at all. I would not venture (registered, with the V capitalized) a guess as to the reason for some of these distinctions.

                        I just took a look at the federal statute that provides the "Congressional charter", specifically the section that provides the "exclusive rights", and here is what that section says: "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." (36 U.S. Code section 30905) That is all it says. It does not list any specific words or phrases, not even "Boy Scout." This wording is the result of a 1998 amendment that took the original 1916 language and simplified it, but I think it means the same thing. The second sentence in the quote above is very significant because it means that the BSA cannot simply "take over" a word or phrase that someone already has a legal right to use.

                        I also recall once reading a court decision that said that the BSA has exclusive rights to use certain words as a matter of "common law" even without the charter.

                        So I am not sure (and have never been sure) what the "Congressional charter" really gives the BSA, in terms of the right to use words and phrases and to prevent others from using them, that it would not have under the law anyway. Therefore, I am not convinced that removal of the Congressional charter (which isn't going to happen anyway) would somehow open the floodgates for other youth organizations to call themselves "Boy Scouts." (Or even "Scouts", which I know the BSA claims as its own, with the exception of the rights of the GSUSA; what I have never understood is why the BSA has never sued the "Spiral Scouts", unless they have and I missed it.)

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                        • #13
                          Just another one of those questions to rattle cages. Of course they would. The charter has nothing to do with their survival.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by skeptic View Post
                            Just another one of those questions to rattle cages. Of course they would. The charter has nothing to do with their survival.
                            I don't know about that; jp's original post seems to be a sincere question to me. Now, if you want to see some original posts that seem designed mainly to "rattle cages" they are not difficult to find in Issues and Politics. I see one a few entries down about rainbow-colored t-shirts. Fortunately there is no rule in this forum (at least not in this section) about cage-rattling or otherwise provocative topics or posts.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Peregrinator View Post
                              "Scout" by itself, as well as "scouting," are probably too generic to stand on their own as trademarks (the BSA doesn't even claim the former as a trademark) without the protection of the Congressional charter.
                              The words "Scout" and "scouting" have been claimed by B.S.A. as protected by trademark law and by its Congressional charter and have been held to be the intellectual property of the B.S.A. under trademark law each time the issue has been tested in court. B.S.A. has been quite willing to go to court.

                              See, e.g.:

                              Wrenn v. Boy Scouts of America, case no. C03-04057 (N.D. Cal. 10-28-2008)("Youthscouts")

                              Adolph Kastor & Bros. v. Federal Trade Commission, 138 F.2d 824 (2d Cir. 1943)
                              (words, "Scout," "Boy Scout," or "Scouting," upon, or in connection with, any knives made or sold by it)





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