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Judge scouts answer to infringement case

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Judge scouts answer to infringement case




Friday, October 10, 2008

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer


(10-10) 17:12 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge offered sympathy but little encouragement today to a Bay Area man who faces a claim of trademark infringement from the Boy Scouts for founding the Youthscouts after his daughter was excluded from her twin brother's troop outings.


What Gregory Wrenn and his daughter are trying to do is "very laudable," promoting "different values, more of an open door, less discriminatory" than the Boy Scouts, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White told Wrenn's lawyer at the close of a hearing in San Francisco.


The case isn't over, as the judge, who had tentatively ruled against Wrenn before the hearing, said he would issue his final decision in writing. But he seemed to agree with the Boy Scouts that a charter Congress granted in 1916 gave the organization the exclusive right to use "scouts" and related terms in naming youth groups.



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Went to their web site, under chartering it says that they are accepting applications for " experienced councils willing to provide training and support at the local and regional level for chartered Youthscouts programs"


Experienced councils? Do they expect a BSA council to suddenly defect? A GSUSA council? Or maybe they think that a BSA council could be both a BSA and a YS council. Hmmmmm . . . maybe they could.

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Its just a matter of time fellas....


BSA keeps spending money in court to keep out the gays, the atheists, and the females from membership.


They go so far as to trounce anyone that starts a similar organization that allows for one or more of these "groups" (for lack of a better term) into their organization... thus enraging the groups that have been "discriminated" against.


Bottom line - they will not stop until they are included.


If BSA national is wise (I think they are) - they will at sometime in the future move to a more inclusive stance. It behoves them to do so on their OWN terms, instead of waiting until the tide of liberal judges are SO far against them that BSA will be forced to offer membership to all on the terms of a court decision.


I was in the Army (ROTC on my way into active duty) when Clinton inacted "Don't ask - Don't Tell..." It was a HUGE issue everywhere. Now, less than 20 years later, its a non-issue in the armed forces. Other than if someone wants a free ticket out of service, they just have to declare themself a homosexual - punch the ticket - take a general (istead of honorable) discharge and Uncle Sam buys them a bus ticket home.


The bottom line is - I would like to keep certain ideals and elements out of BSA and my son's scouting expirience. But if they want to join and do so without an agenda, then WHY doesn't BSA allow them to join with the stipulation that sexuality, religion, and gender are off limits as discussion (pro or con)?


BSA should do this on THEIR terms before it is mandated and dictated to them by the courts... or before they loose the rights to so many land use permits that there is no place left to camp.... or before they bankrupt their own organization because they can't sell enough popcorn to keep up with the legal fees.


Besides - when I read the Scout Law - I don't find anything about excluding others. If anything, by our law and our motto, we are charged with being an inclusive organization.


Just wait until Mr Wrenn appeals the judge's ruling and it lands in the lap of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals up in S.F. !!! They'd have a field day with it. If they have no problem declaring the Pledge of Allegiance in public school unconstitutional, they wouldn't think twice about forcing the "integration" (if you will) of the BSA.


Most scouting activities in Europe are co-ed groups. Heck, even the scouts that come to the Scout Fair in San Diego from Mexico are co-ed. As far as the atheists - they can believe whatever they want as long as they are not disruptive to the religious ceremonies and prayers of the faithful at the meetings. As for gays - as long as they are not promoting the lifestyle, why is it anyone's business? I'd be apalled by ANYONE speaking to scouts about sexuality in ANY manner (heterosexual or homosexual). That's not part of scouting's job. That is a parent's job!


While I don't agree with the atheists, the gays, or including females into Cub and Boy Scouts - I just don't see how BSA can hold out forever and still survive.


Its a war of attrition and the "enemy" has time, legislation, money, and a great amount of public setiment on their side.


At what point does it become, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." At least it could be done under BSA's terms. Otherwise, I fear BSA will be bankrupt from such fights before my two sons complete their scouting years.

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I don't have a problem with the BSA defending itself. What I do have a problem with is the BSA laying legal claim to common words like scouts, tenderfoot, troop, bear, wolf, etc. Those words were around decades before the BSA decided to incorporate them into their program.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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Ed, I'd never have thought it... ;)


And I agree completely with you that attempting to limit the use of those words is silly. If the BSA program can't stand on its own as a distinct program at this point in its history, then it is far weaker than I think it is. I don't believe the BSA even needs this sort of legal protection any more, if it ever did.

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"What I do have a problem with is the BSA laying legal claim to common words like scouts, tenderfoot, troop, bear, wolf, etc. Those words were around decades before the BSA decided to incorporate them into their program. "


It's part of trademark protection. You have to defend them or lose the exclusive rights within your market space (in this case youth organizations). And without the rights, anyone can set up a youth organization mirroring the BSA with the same exact terminology. There's a reason why the ranks all have the word "Scout" after them in their name.


How would you really feel if some other youth organization established an "Eagle Scout" as their highest advancement rank, and perhaps used some of the others as well? Wouldn't that dilute the term "Eagle Scout"?


Unless you've been in a similar position, it can be hard to understand the real value of a trademark, and more specifically the legal requirement to defend it (i.e. if you don't, you lose the trademark protection). There's nothing wrong with competition, but that competition shouldn't be able to create confusion by usurping and mirroring your identifying terminology and claiming thit for themselves.

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Before I get started, I have no problem with females and I am not sexist in any way. But I think I am going to ruffle some feathers here.


What part of BOY scouts or America do people have a hard time understanding. What would happen if a young man wanted to join the GSUSA. He would be laughed out of the meeting and no one would think anything different.


Look back at the case about the Citadel. They took it to court to get a young lady admitted to a mens' College, and then after months in court, she got admitted, only to fail out in what they call hell week.


My duaghter is in Girl Scouts. In the first year, she has already done things that my son will not do for a while in Cub Scouts. This summer they went to Savanah Ga to see that birth place of the GSUSA founder.


Why do WE as a society think that everything has to be Coed, no matter what the nearly 100 years of history states. We often have many problems with boys not finishing the trail to Eagle due to the 'Fumes.' This is a problems that leaders face everyday. But we have found that the dedication and commitment of leaders usually pervails.


I have also heard that if I decide to help out my daughters GSUSA troop, then I will have to set up a set diatance from the rest of the Troop and basically be treated like a crook, just because they are girls and I want to help.


Now to help with the desire that many young ladies have to attend our many high adventure bases, the BSA has developed the Venture Scouts. I think that this should be the limit of the involvment at the youth level.


Now I do really appreciate my famale leaders. I couldn't make it without them. But that is in the leader capacity. They are great, and I cannot thank them enough. But I do not really see them moving onto Boy Scouts, not because they could not handle it, but they have already made it clear that the camping style of the older scouts is not for them. There are some female leaders in the Boy Scouts that I have seen and they apparenetly do very well.


I know that now I will get many rebuttals from my post, but I am being honest. I am not trying to cover anything up, but I am speaking my mind.


-These are my opinions, not that of anyone else, my unit, district, council, our the BSA-

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I think that BSA MUST continue to fight for the right to decide what is acceptable to BSA. If BSA choses to retain requirements of belief in God and "straight", then that is their choice as defined by the Supreme Court. If other groups wish to form, they cannot do so by stealing the names, ranks, and rules. BSA has the responsiblity to protect the organization as a whole or they will be nibbled to death by ducks! If we as an organization will not stand up for ourselves, who will? If we give in on co-ed, will that stop the litigation? If we allow atheists, will the opposition be content or will they try to change a different requirement? We must be willing to defend our positions because the other side will not stop until we no longer exist.

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Thanks GW


I was a Police Explorer when I was younger, I just did not know all the history. know that there were different programs that provided for the Co-ed program.


I also remember when I was in the Varsity Scouts were a group of Senior Scouts that did high adventure and more extreme outings. This has apparently changed to the Venture Program I guess.

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Tenderfoot Scout, Eagle Scout, Cub Scout. These are trademarked and have a meaning outside the organization. The population at large knows that an Eagle Scout is a Boy Scout. It has a meaning, a reputation. If another organization started calling their beginning campers "Eagle Scouts" it would dilute the meaning and demean the achievement. If BSA does not protect the terms, anyone could call themselves Boy Scouts or Eagle Scouts and there would no longer be a reputation for boys to maintain because the name would become meaningless. WORDS MEAN THINGS: trite, but true. Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Why else would identity theft be a crime?


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"I also remember when I was in the Varsity Scouts were a group of Senior Scouts that did high adventure and more extreme outings. This has apparently changed to the Venture Program I guess."


It's all very confusing. Varsity Scouts still exists. There used to be Venture Crews in troops but those became Venture Patrols and neither had anything to do with Venturing, the program. There were/are some bad choices of names which has caused confusion. At least that's my opinion.


Exploring always had a high adventure component but the career part became more well known, I was a geek Explorer in high school or maybe it was nerd Explorer. Our advisor didn't know squat about the program, didn't know about awards, we just played with technology.




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Now to get confusing, there were (not sure if they really officially gone) both Venture and Varsity patrols available to Scout Troops. The idea was these were for senior boys (no girls) to specialize in sports or high adventure in order to retain the older scouts. They were established before Exploring went to Learning for Life. Then Varsity Teams as a stand alone program was formed for boys fourteen to eighteen.


Now we had four BSA units types Cubs (boys ~8 to ~ 10.5), Boy Scouts (boys ~10.5 to 18), Varsity (boys 14 to 18), Explorers (co-ed 14 to 21). In the nineties in became untenable for Exploring units sponsored by government groups (fire, police, etc.) to be chartered under the BSA membership and leadership standards. We could not excluded atheists and gays and fit under the rules of the government groups, so the BSA started another organization called Learning for Life, moving to it the school based programs and those Exploring groups. The high adventure type and traditional sponsoring groups, i.e. church, community organizations Explorer groups were changed over into a new coed program, with new ranks and leadership plan called Venturing. Sea Scouts are lumped into the Explorer now Venturing.


Now for those of us who serve in councils where we have a significant Latter Days Saints (Mormon) presence will know that they are the primary charterer of Varsity Teams. It has to do with grouping of the boys in their wards. Not remembering the exact name of the ward grouping, but know they a hard rules about ages, here is how they organized their boys. Cubs start at 8 no Tigers, Boy Scouts start at 11 with restrictions on their activities, full scouting at 12, Varsity 14 and Venturing at 16 and done by 18 with no girls.


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