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Pale Horse

Congressional Charter

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BSA is and never will be able to be in a position to shut down a church's ministry to their youth without a flagrant abuse of it's own Law.  Trail Life USA, Royal Rangers, Pioneers, etc. are not scout programs, they are church ministries.  Good luck with shutting them down.  BSA goes out of it's way to say it isn't a church program and thus one would have the BSA taking churches to court for breech of what?  :)  If one thinks BSA would lay awake nights worrying about the gender issue, try taking on the nightmare of the churches. 

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I corrected my post to be clear that BSA would never try to shut down another youth organization.

There is a difference between defending your brand and obstructing assembly.

 

... Trail Life USA, Royal Rangers, Pioneers, etc. are not scout programs,...

 

I think we may be splitting hairs here. One or more of these groups could be for all intents and purposes, scouting, they simply are not permitted to use that word. A rose by any other name ...

 

A future where BSA erodes its base and one or more of these organizations swells in numbers is possible, but unlikely. Were that to happen, they could vie for the attention of WOSM, and us boots on the ground would have to decide if we were going to tolerate the concept of a federation of US scouting organizations.

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There can be only one.  A country can only have one Boy Scout organization affiliated with WOSM, so it was felt that Congress should make that decision on who gets to represent our country in WOSM.

 

If there hadn't been a Congressional Charter, we would have multiple scouting organizations in the United States.

 

What I find interesting is that so many of the scouters who will bludgeon other scouters with every nit picking rule in the book, will often ignore and disregard BSA's most important document, its Congressional Charter.  

 

The congressional charter predates WOSM's predecessor, the Boy Scouts International Bureau (BISB) which was founded in 1922. I think the BSA sought a charter so that they could be the officially official scouting association in the United States, and use the power of the law to prevent competitors from using the terms "scout" and "scouting".

 

And there are multiple scouting associations in the United States; they just can't have "scout" or "scouting" as part of their name. I believe a similar situation prevails in other Anglophone countries (e.g., Canada, New Zealand) but not, interestingly, in the UK, where there are several associations with "scout" in their name.

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A future where BSA erodes its base and one or more of these organizations swells in numbers is possible, but unlikely. Were that to happen, they could vie for the attention of WOSM, and us boots on the ground would have to decide if we were going to tolerate the concept of a federation of US scouting organizations.

 

WOSM no longer accepts federations of scouting organizations as members. So the situation that prevails in some counties (e.g. France, Germany, Italy), where mainstream scouting is divided along religious lines, won't be duplicated in the future.

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For some reason, "Spriral Scouts" seems to still be using the word "Scouts" in its name.  I do not know whether the BSA has ever taken (or threatened) legal action against them.  I find that odd because the BSA seems to be pretty good at getting other groups not to use its trademarks, and not just "Scout" or "Scouting".  I have a vague recollection of one of the newer groups using at least one of the BSA's rank names (maybe Tenderfoot) and the BSA apparently sent a letter and the group changed it pretty quickly.  I do not remember which of the groups it was. I am pretty sure it was discussed in this forum and I did a search but cannot find it.  I did find a discussion from 2008 about whether the BSA can prevent another group from using a words like tenderfoot, troop, wolf, bear etc. in the context of a youth organization, but nothing about a specific group doing so.

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WOSM no longer accepts federations of scouting organizations as members. So the situation that prevails in some counties (e.g. France, Germany, Italy), where mainstream scouting is divided along religious lines, won't be duplicated in the future.

Nothing could po$$ibly change that policy? Not even an attempt to reverse the declining purchases of World Crests?

 

As I said, we are talking about a very unlikely scenario. I don't foresee a boots-on-the-ground insurrection.

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I do not know whether the BSA has ever taken (or threatened) legal action against them.  I find that odd because the BSA seems to be pretty good at getting other groups not to use its trademarks, and not just "Scout" or "Scouting".  I have a vague recollection of one of the newer groups using at least one of the BSA's rank names (maybe Tenderfoot) and the BSA apparently sent a letter and the group changed it pretty quickly.  I do not remember which of the groups it was. I am pretty sure it was discussed in this forum and I did a search but cannot find it.  I did find a discussion from 2008 about whether the BSA can prevent another group from using a words like tenderfoot, troop, wolf, bear etc. in the context of a youth organization, but nothing about a specific group doing so.

 

The BSA actually doesn't have a trademark on "scout" ("boy scout" maybe, but not "scout") ... the reason they are able to stop other youth organizations from using the word is because of the congressional charter. I think "scout" is too generic a word to be trademarked, though I'm sure it could be trademarked if it were made into a distinctive logo (IANAL, of course).

 

I believe it was AHG that was using the "Tenderfoot" rank and the BSA stopped them from doing it.

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As far as SpiralScouts is concerned, I read somewhere that the BSA had sent them a C&D letter that they ignored. I can't remember now where I read it, but it was around the time of the Hacker Scouts dustup.

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Nothing could po$$ibly change that policy? Not even an attempt to reverse the declining purchases of World Crests?

 

As I said, we are talking about a very unlikely scenario. I don't foresee a boots-on-the-ground insurrection.

Oh I'm sure the policy could change for the right rea$on$! But yes, unlikely because groups that are not WOSM member associations are not WOSM member associations for a reason. It could be because of the membership changes to WOSM associations over the years, or it could be because of other concerns - wanting to have a traditional scouting program rather than a modern one, for example.

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The BSA was represented by Charles Evans Hughes, former Governor of New York and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Testimony included an affidavit from Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the international Scout Movement, on the origins of the Scout Movement.[20]:581 In 1919, the New York Supreme Court, a trial court, granted the BSA an injunction and the USBS was barred from using the terms "Boy Scout", "Scout", "Scouting", or any variation thereof.[21][22][23]

 

Then of course the argument can be made that these "break away" organizations do not want to be associated with scouting and will make it clear that their program is an alternative it is not scouting.  They take a more woodland/outdoors name rather than the militant Scouting.  Navigators, Royal Rangers, Pioneers, Trail Life USA, Adventurers, Frontiersmen, Pathfinders, and Awana to mention just a few.

 

Of course there's other youth organizations that are often associated with scouting identified as the FFA and 4-H.

 

As I drive into town every day there's a full-sized bill board that catches all traffic coming in that says Boys & Gilrs Club  a program for Character and Leadership Development.  The Family "Y" is a biggie here too with huge signs all over it's massive new expansion.  Boy's and Gilr's Club are just now landscaping around the huge addition they put on their building as well.  And the BSA Council office?  Hasn't changed for 40 years, but they did paint is just recently with some cheap gaudy green paint. 

 

When the BSA gave up it's foothold on Character and Leadership development, they passed the torch to a lot of other organizations out there that have done well in attracting the youth of the nation.

 

BSA is in competition with all of these programs

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As far as SpiralScouts is concerned, I read somewhere that the BSA had sent them a C&D letter that they ignored. I can't remember now where I read it, but it was around the time of the Hacker Scouts dustup.

 

The SpiralScouts apparently did respond to the Boy Scouts of America and the BSA never responded. 

 

The word Scout does apparently have trademark protection despite it's generic-ness, based on Wrenn vs. Boys Scouts of America

 

I'm guessing - and this is only a guess - that the BSA might have backed off because the SpiralScouts is a mission of a specific church and not an association of churches so there might be some 1st Amendment issues at play that the BSA didn't want to get entangled with.  

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The word Scout does apparently have trademark protection despite it's generic-ness, based on Wrenn vs. Boys Scouts of America

 

It has something like trademark protection but it is not actually trademarked.

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The BPSA was originally the Baden-Powell Scout Association, until the BSA stepped in. They changed "Scout" to "Service" in the name. But they do still use the terms "scout" and "scouting" in their program. 

 

I think as long as it's not in the name, it's allowed. 

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Wrenn v. BSA:

 

https://casetext.com/case/wrenn-v-boy-scouts-of-america

 

Very interesting.  I had never read it before.  The judge says he is specifically NOT deciding whether the BSA has a protectable interest in the word "Scout(s)".  He says that several times.  He says he is only deciding that "YOUTHSCOUTS" infringes on the Boy Scouts' rights under both trademark law and the Congressional Charter.  Now, you might well ask, how can "YOUTHSCOUTS" infringe on "Boy Scouts" UNLESS the BSA has a protectable interest in the word "Scouts".  And well you might.  I am not sure that this decision really answers that question.  But I am not sure it matters; either way, if you have a youth group with the word "Scouts" in the name, and the BSA sues you, in all likelihood you are going to lose.  

 

As for the BSA not suing Spiral Scouts, I have my theories about why that occurred, but it also seems to me that the BSA has weakened its case for the next time it sues someone in a similar situation.  One of their arguments has always been that they aggressively protect their rights under trademark and the Congressional Charter, and that time they didn't.  (This does not constitute legal advice, etc. etc.)

Edited by NJCubScouter

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