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BSA Trademark symbol use

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A bit of clarification on the fleur-de-lis (FdL). The fleur-de-lis in and of itself cannot be copyrighted as it is a very generic emblem that has been in use for thousands of years:



However, specific versions of the fleur-de-lis can and are copyrighted. The BSA "universal emblem" consists of the fleur-de-lis with eagle, American shield and two stars. The universal emblem is the used as the rank of Tenderfoot in Boy Scouting and as the emblem of the BSA movement. BSA emblems are variously covered by copyright, trademark and congressional charter.


The fleur-de-lis is used by many Scouting organizations within and without the WOSM.


The trefoil is a different emblem that may have similar origins:



The trefoil is used by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.



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Does anyone have a copy of the aforementioned communication from National about this? I just checked the website and it appears that nothing in this area has been changed since June, 2005.


If there are changes in procedures for us to be able to use the BSA logos, it would be good to know about them before we need to use them. Making an example out of a unit is a poor way to foster cooperation.

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There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about this. Let me share more about what I've learned:


1. Units and councils may still use the marks for informational and educational purposes. Councils may use the marks for FOS materials, too. They may not use the marks on products (things that are or could be sold) without those products being produced by a BSA licensee.


2. The generic fleur-de-lis is not a proprietary BSA mark (although several versions of what's known as the "Universal Emblem" are, as was mentioned before). Some folks are worrying too much about this.


3. I doubt units and councils are the target of the trademark enforcement. Think about...where's the logic in that? I suspect the trademark enforcement will be focused on the manufacturers of products that are using BSA marks without permission.

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The document to which you refer is dated October 16 and was sent to each council chief exec from the Trademark officer at BSA. It notes the acceptable uses of BSA trademarks and those which required license fees.


In short, any item that can be re-sold or used in commerce must be produced by a BSA licensed supplier. That goes for any patch created by any council. The only uses for un-licensed BSA logos or trademarks, among other things, are photocopied council materials that are NOT used in commerce.


The document stating the official BSA position is internal and is not posted for pubic viewing.


My information comes from a personal meeting with that Trademark official at BSA.

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Funny isn't it that only a couple of people have seen this document, now we are told is not for dissemination. Makes me wonder if its really official, sounds like the "Grey Area" letter that has beeen floating around for years that is porported to be "Official" policy


If you have seen this letter, make a copy, scan it, post it. Until then I will follow nationals posted guidelines on scouting.org


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Perhaps a CE who denies seeing something might be demonstrating "plausible deniability". Even though he might have seen it or knows of it, he could believe that saying that he doesn't know anything about it might infer that it does not exist. Maybe that's the game plan from Texas? This kind of stuff happens frequently in the corporate world. The truth eventually comes out.

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"The document stating the official BSA position is internal and is not posted for pubic viewing. "


So now we have an alleged policy with alleged penalties that is not available to us.


Beware, some may be on "double secret probation" and not even know it.


Do they put the logos on the BSA black helicopters?




(This message has been edited by scoutingagain)

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Let's not be nasty about it, shall we?


It's an internal document right now, probably until the bugs get worked out. Applications are flowing into the Trademark officer and they're being turned around as fast as they can. In 6 months there will be a dozen authorized patch makers to which councils can turn. The mis-information coming out like "councils will have to pay BSA National royalties" are incorrect.


It's the patch-maker or vendor to each council that will pay the royalty fees to BSA. That's why a vendor must be licensed to use BSA trademarks in commerce situations. I'm not convinced that it's a money-grab situation. I'm seeing a real attempt on the part of BSA to control the use of unauthorized BSA trademarks and logos with companies that have sub-par production techniques and those unauthorized products with BSA logos that have a lousy shelf-life, ie: shirt with iron on decals that start peeling off after 2 washings. It would reflect poorly on BSA quality control, otherwise.


David C. Scott





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NO...it was dropping because it was not appealing to young men of the Cubbie age that are not presently Scouts. I feel confident that this problem is being addressed. They had a good recruitment bounce in the 3rd quarter but that's another thread. (said with extreme seriousness)


Now why do you deem it so important to demand that BSA just give out information that is really not our business right now? It's in the hands of the Council Execs for them to get out when the want to. Perhaps if you own IBM stock, you could demand that they give you internal memos also. You're an "owner" then, too, right? (said with extreme sarcasm)


Give the deal 6 months and if not all is more clear at that time, then re-start your complaining.


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You may think the CE's know about this, but maybe just in your area. No one in our area has seen this, heard of this or knows anything about it to include the patch companies we deal with.


Still sounds to me like another "Grey Area" letter.

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Is BSA going to come after me because I use the BSA logo on my own troop's publicity materials (a full-color brochure that I design and print)? And on our troop letterhead?


How about the printed materials that I have produced for adult recruitment conferences? (The materials were printed gratis - no one made any money.)


There are legitimate needs to control the use of trademarks. Doing so to excess is a double-edged sword. BSA may be about to be hoist on its own petard.

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