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Does BSA have a monopoly?

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The one thing that you have not addressed is the issue of someone using the scouting name and the "public" would not know which group was which.


Yah, that's true.


It's true because the BSA has had a monopoly for so long, eh? If there had been other scouting groups all along, confusion wouldn't be an issue.


The thing is, in getting its start, the BSA benefitted from the goodwill and name of Scouting built up by BP and others. We know BP was frustrated a bit by the BSA corporate model and how it affected the movement. So it seems like we shouldn't complain too loudly about others doin' the same thing we did. We just need to make our "brand" unique and interestin'. Coke, not just cola. BSA, not just Scoutin'.


The rep. thing can go the other way, too, eh? A fun new scoutin' association might challenge us to be better, and might develop a better reputation for not gettin' kids lost in the mountains, or havin' lots of safe fun playin' laser tag. We might benefit.


Once the "Scout Associations with Special Interest Agendas" collapse, the ones that remain focused on the kids might improve our American scoutin' community. Healthy rivalry; good competition. At least it would give us some fellow scouts to buy the camps we keep sellin', and keep them as scouting camps...;)








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I'm a Southern Baptist. The last I remember hearing, there are over 30 different Baptist denominations out there. Some small and some large. You'd be surprised how many folks out there think a Baptist is a Baptist is a Baptist......but they aren't. There are differences. I'm partial to what mine believes. Being the good Baptist I am, I'd have concerns if you wanted to join a "Baptist" church like mine and went to the one with the snake handlers and poison drinkers who call themselves Baptists.

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Hmm, would one of the moderators check to see why I no longer receive Email notices when someone posts to the threads to which I am subscribed?


Beavah writes:


BP-Scouts...don't seem to really exist.


B-P Scouts works on the model suggested by Baden-Powell: an all-volunteer movement. This means they won't be building air-conditioned offices on a street corner near you :-)


For those who call their local BSA Council office so often that the secretaries recognize their voice, obviously the local support of the BSA model is the way to go.


However, most of the world works on a different model. For instance, I live a mile from the Canadian border. When I call "Scouts Canada" to make a camping reservation, it is an answering machine at some volunteer's house, and they answer it when they get home from work. B-P Scouting will be more along those lines, but (at least for the time-being) without the camps.


campcrafter writes:


"Kudu wrote:

... for moderates to get out there and establish alternatives."




So what is the latest with the BPSA?


They have just begun, in the last 90 days, to send out membership packets and applications. Their process is very thorough and goes beyond the BSA in requirements and member protection screening and precaution. I have a copy of their Program Manual and it is a great handbook of how Baden-Powell's kind of Scouting program works. It is not just a stapled together pamphlet. They still don't have a website, but it is under construction and I hope to see it launched soon.


Obviously it has taken a great amount of work, and therefore time, to get this program together, but it looks like it has been worth the wait. Their program is thorough and very much in the spirit of the original (and quite similar--original Promise and Scout Law, Traditional Progressive Training [what we call Advancement] requirements, Uniforms & Badges, etc.) and their materials look top notch.


If you want to contact them to ask questions or to inquire about getting involved or starting a group, their toll free number is 866-339-0846. Like Scouts Canada, no-one will answer (they are all-volunteer and don't have a receptionist) but leave a message and someone will call you back--probably the president of the National Board of Directors. He seems to be handling allot of the initial communication with new and interested parties. You can also send an email to info.bpsa@gmail.com.




I am in close contact with a few board members and advisers and am pretty familiar with their history and program. I will try to answer questions but I am not officially involved with this group, and do not speak on their behalf. Let me know if you try to get in touch with them without success, and I will see what I can do to help.


dan writes:


The BSA does not do anything relating to scouting as Baden-Powell used scouting terms, seems that his idea on scouting was tracking and hiding.


Yes, dan,


1. Tracking is one of the elements of Scouting that is missing from the current BSA program. Baden-Powell considered it important in building the powers of observation and deduction. "Kim's Game" is another such missing observational requirement.


Other missing elements in the BSA's core program include:


2. Signaling: (Actually a different form of observation and interpretation) Options include Morse Code, Semaphore, Indian Sign Language, or ASL--American Sign Language for communicating with the deaf.


3. Scout Journeys: These are expeditions of increasing difficulty undertaken by the Scouts without adult interference. The only remnant of this that remains in the BSA core program is the 2nd Class Five Mile Hike.


4. Current Proficiency: Baden-Powell's program has fewer Proficiency Badges, with advanced "Senior Scouts" versions replacing the elementary beginner Proficiency Badges. Wearing a Proficiency Badge indicates that the Scout is currently proficient in that skill. For instance, if he fails to renew his first aid certification every year, he must remove the first aid badge from his Uniform.


For a generic "Americanized" version of Baden-Powell's program (similar to the B-P Scouts version), see:




Other differences in programs include:


1) The Scout Uniform. In general, Baden-Powell placed Scoutcraft Badges on the right side of the Scout Uniform. These skills were a means of immersing the Scout in what B-P called "The Religion of the Backwoods." On the left side of the Uniform he placed his Public Service Badges, through which a Scout practiced Service to Others, what B-P called "Practical Christianity."


In Baden-Powell's Scouting, a Scout's "Duty to God" was measured by his actions, not by a religious litmus test of his beliefs.


Except for 2nd Class (which is replaced by the 1st Class Badge), "Scout's Cord" (which is replaced by the Bushman's Cord), and Scout Proficiency Badges (which are replace by Senior Scout Proficiency Badges) all of a Scout's Badges remain on his Uniform. The Tenderfoot Badge is also known as the "Membership Badge," and is also worn by the adults.


Some generic badge-placement diagrams are at:




Some photographs are at:




2. Emphasis on Scouting as a "game." This includes retesting for 2nd & 1st Class skills, but no "Scoutmaster Conferences," "Boards of Review," or "Scout Spirit" requirements as we know them. As William Hillcourt said, "To the Scouts Scouting is a Game--to us, a game with a purpose," but in Baden-Powell's game, if adults fail to impart their values through the very indirect means of the game, they do not have end-run shortcuts to cut off a Scout's progress after he has demonstrated his mastery of the actual Scoutcraft skills required.


For 2nd and 1st Class, however, a Scout is required to meet with the Scoutmaster to demonstrate his understanding of the Scout Law and Promise; and with the Court of Honor (known to us as the "PLC") to talk about his involvement in his Patrol and Troop. There is also an national-level interview before earning the St. George Award, the highest youth Award (what we call "rank"). In B-P Scouting, "Award" refers to the mastery of Scoutcraft--eg. Tenderfoot, First Class, Scout Cord; and "Rank" refers to leadership position--eg. Patrol Leader, Troop Leader ("SPL"), Scoutmaster.


3. Rovers: Earning Scoutcraft Awards continues on through adulthood, for those who are so inclined. The highest Award in Scouting is not the the youth Award, but the "Baden-Powell Award" earned by Rovers, with no upper age limit.




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SR540Beaver, I am certain that all the snake-handlers (religion-wise at least) I have met were Pentecostals, not Baptists. Please tell me that the Baptists don't really have these as well...too much...too much!


No one I know has died yet but the ones who have ought to be nominated for the Darwin award. However, as the misfortune usually occurs after they've reproduced, those defective genes are already out there. Oh well.

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" Hey, Joe, could you toss me the...


((Choose one... or be sued for improper name usage))


"Band Aids? ...self adhesive wound bandages ?"


"Kleenex? ...soft tissue paper nose wipers?"


"model of that classic '67 Mustang? ...mid twentieth century pony car?"


"roll of Scotch tape? ...self adhesive clear acetate tape?"


"my Teflon skillet? ...non-stick tetra fluoro carbide frying pan?"


"that Xerox copy? ...that photo process self image?"


"my PC? (ooops! crash)" ... my non-IBM made personal calculating device?"


"my Primus?" ... little portable petrol fired cooking apparatus?"


"can of Coke?" .... sorry, we don't serve Coka Cola products here."


"My Panzerkampfwagen?" ...my new Abrams A1?"


"A couple of BVDs?" (does that date me?) ....two pair u-trou?"



Oh Hum..... YiS


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To recap a bit--as others have noted, the Congressional Charter as well as copyright/trademark only protect the name, emblems, etc., and other groups are free to use a substantially similar program, ideals, etc. The reality is that it's very difficult to start a competing program when the existing one is so well-known and entrenched. Indeed, that's the reason new competing groups want to use the word "Scouts" in their name--because that word already has positive connotations to Americans--and I think you have to give BSA credit for that, since BSA has been Scouting in this country for many decades.

As far as analogies, it isn't really like a company (Ford) or a long-established religion (the Baptist church), but more like something like the American Legion or the Girl Scouts, which also have an interest in protecting their exclusive right to their name. I should note that some newer religions have taken steps to trademark their names and other terms in order to protect their exclusivity.

I suppose it may be true that BSA has a monopoly on recognition by international Scouting as the one true representative of the Scouting movement in the USA. However, there is nothing in US law that requires this. If, for example, international scouting wanted to include "US Baden Powell Ourdoorsmen" (or some such) as a recognized element of the scouting movement, I don't think BSA would be able to do anything about it, at least outside the US.

My bottom line on this is that it's perfectly reasonable for people to criticize BSA policies and programs, and to urge BSA to change them. But I don't think it's reasonable for them to claim that BSA has some special responsibility to do this because it has a "monopoly." It doesn't.

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I'm not a lawyer, but both Mustang and Impala were in the public domain and common usage long before there was Ford and Chevy. The names became trademarkable when the company claimed them and associated them with their product.


Scouts was in common usage before there was BSA. It became trademarkable when BSA claimed the term and associated it with its product/organization.

(This message has been edited by Fishsqueezer)

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Does anyone know whether or not the BSA believes that Cartoon Network infringes on their copyrights? They have Bean Scouts and Squirrel Scouts at Camp Lazlo, and then there's good ol' Scoutmaster Lumpus.


Unless the BSA wants to sue 'em for royalties, I think the word Scout is generic and fair game.

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Can I call my new youth organization the Impalas? Probably. Can I call my new hybrid auto an Impala? Probably not.

Can I call my new hybrid auto a Scout? Probably. Can I call my new youth organization Scouts? Probably not.


How about Boy? Or America? Why is Scout the only word of interest here? Boy Impalas of America wouldn't get a second glance by the lawyers. But Androgynous Scouts of Europa will get a lawsuit. Go figure. That's why I never became a lawyer.

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Of course, words like "impala" and "scout" have been around long before they were trademarked--as Gern notes, it is their association with a product or service that makes them trademarkeable.

One of the key factors in determining whether another use of the word is an infringement is the likelihood of confusion. "Boy Impalas of America" would be unlikely to be confused with Boy Scouts of America--but the same can't be said of something like, say, "Youth Scouts of America." (Personal note: we were recently annoyed when we made a pledge to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, thinking it was the National Multiple Sclerosis Society--so this kind of thing can happen even to supposedly intelligent people.)

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Can I call my new youth organization the Impalas? Probably. Can I call my new hybrid auto an Impala? Probably not.

Can I call my new hybrid auto a Scout? Probably. Can I call my new youth organization Scouts? Probably not.


An improper analogy, eh? Impala was the first use of the animal name for an automobile. The BSA is not the first use of "Scouts" for a youth outdoors character development program. The use of "Scouting" to describe a particular kind of youth outdoors character development program is in common worldwide parlance, and was so prior to the formation of the BSA.



How about Boy? Or America? Why is Scout the only word of interest here?


Da words "Boy" and "America" were in common worldwide parlance prior to the BSA, too. Claiming "Scouting" as proprietary to the BSA is as dishonest as claiming the term "America" is proprietary to the BSA, and can be used by no other youth service organization. While perhaps it reflects the current abuses of patents, copyrights, and trademarks, it is not honorable.


If the only way we can stay the pre-eminent youth outdoor character program in the U.S. is by litigation, then we should be ashamed.


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So Beavah, if someone else registered the names "Beavah." or "Beeavah" or "beavah" and started writing posts to stir up trouble, trying to confuse everyone that he was you - how would you feel about that? Would it be fun spending all your time trying to make everyone understand who was who? Not a good comparision? Well think about this. Do you tell everyone that your son is "in the Boy Scouts of America" or do you tell everyone your son is "in Scouts."

If another organization comes along, no matter what they call it, they could simply tell everyone they are the Scouts. It may say something different on the charter, but in common usage, they could just use the term "Scouts" to try to confuse the unknowing.

They want to get into a school to recruit, they are just going to tell the principal they are leaders with the Scouts. They want to use a storefront for a fundraiser, they are going to tell the owners they are the Scouts.

Maybe the new group runs a good operation, or maybe they don't. Bottom line is, if they are allowed to use the term "Scouts" they are going to be riding on the coattails and good will of the BSA. And any damage the new group does to the term "Scouts" (say, from running a bad program) will harm the BSA as well.

The BSA will have no control over how the new Scout group would operate or act. We assume they would follow most of the program we have, but they would be under no requirement to do so. They might have a Cow Tipping merit badge or a Graffiti Painting merit badge. It sounds ridiculous, but it is possible. A group wanting to damage the BSA could cause a lot of trouble if they were allowed to start a program with the Scout name. As Hunt mentioned, identity theft does not just apply to individuals. Sleazy fund-raisers do it all the time.

If things go sour with the new Scouts (maybe they trash your favorite campground, resulting in "Scouts" being banned), would you want to spend a lot of time explaining to those in your community which Scout group you are with? How the two groups are different? Why the campground owner should trust you that your Scouts would never act that way?

A lot of Scouters here finish their posts with "I love this Scouting stuff!" A simple statement. We all know what they are talking about. Add in another "Scout" organization and the whole world of Scouting as we know it might change dramatically. All that we are comfortable with will then have to be clarified and explained, over and over again.

I see the BSA protecting the program they built here in this country as a wise and prudent move. I see nothing dishonorable about it.

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