Jump to content

BSA Trademark symbol use

Recommended Posts

Miki101 said, "In 6 months there will be a dozen authorized patch makers to which councils can turn."


I remember when the rule came out that "all BSA patches must include the FDL". But what's used is the generic plain FDL without eagle, not the registered trademark. I can't remember a patch, other than rank badges, that contain registered trademarks. CSP, event patches, OA flaps...nope. At least in my Council.


So as a free American, I can use the generic FDL at will, with whatever vendor I want, right? As long as I don't order it through Council. Our Council does have a rule that all event patches MUST be approved and ordered by the SE. I've always wondered if he gets a kickback from favored vendors.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I have read the ten page document.

There is a lot of things covered in it.

I will need some time to digest it and try and understand and see what it really is saying.

Off the top of my head, having not really spent any time on it, I have to admit I do have some concerns and do feel it will have some far reaching effects.

We as a forum seem to have spent some time looking at where or who has authority.

It seems to me that the BSA does own a lot of the symbols used and can manage the use of them as they (The National Council) see fit.

I really don't think that the BSA has the manpower to go after everyone who opts to not follow the rules and it will come down to people doing the right thing because it's the right thing.

Not trying to steal the thread. - But...

I have to admit to being a little surprised that the BSA in the VLSC course is not asking that royalties be paid for the movies used in the Vision on Video module.

We do collect the money for movies used at WB.

I can't help thinking that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. If we want people to respect our trademarks, we should respect the copyrighted material of others.


Link to post
Share on other sites

An official BSA investigation is under way to find who leaked the secret memo about the trademark crackdown. Within 6 months teams of infiltrators will be in place within local councils and districts. Look for innocent faces appearing from nowhere at roundtable meetings, camporees, etc. Their mission is to track down errant members that use BSA owned logos. The target is illegal posters, flyers, patches, tee shirts, equipment, illegal uniforms and anything related to Scouting that was not obtained from official Scout shops and council offices. Better hold on to your official BSA receipts.


The other goal not mentioned in the trademark memo (there is rumored to be another secret memo not yet leaked) is to root out the misfits and purge them from our great organization. The first suspects are those that protest the loudest. Watch it!

Link to post
Share on other sites



While I used your quote, rest assured my post was meant with tongue firmly planted in cheek and not directly at anyone personally. If anyone took offese I sincerely appologize. It was meant as a poke at a bureacracy struggling with an issue and not apparently communicating it very well to those that may be impacted. Not that something like this would ever happen in any other organization.


See FScouter's post above. Though come to think of it we did have new guy at Roundtable last meeting?


Personally I think they should make an example of the New Orleans Saints. What they did to Dallas last week was criminal, although I will admit they seemed to have Romo scouted pretty well.





Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure about the Vision video, but it wouldn't surprise me if maybe BSA is paying the royalties and not passing it on.


I understand that BSA regularly tracks and pays royalties on several books, as well many Norman Rockwell and Joseph Csatari paintings it uses on products and the image of MacKenzie Scout (which belongs to a northeast council, I think).


I long thought that Rockwell images belonged to BSA, but many of were works created by Rockwell for Brown & Bigelow. How many others of us who use those images on things can say the same?


I know some councils have used Rockwell images on FOS and other donor gifts, and I wonder if they paid the royalty? Probably not, because they likely didn't think they had to do so. Yet, if Brown and Bigelow knew (I hear they are notorious for protecting their images), you can bet they'd take action.


In the end, I think BSA has a legal obligation to protect their marks. What's they're doing is no different from the NFL, Warner Brothers, the National Wildlife Federation or others. The trademark law doesn't allow selective enfrocement.


P.S. I'm not a lawyer and I don't even play one on TV.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm all for protecting trademarks...against those who are illegally profiting from their use. That does not describe the majority of us. A reasonable approach would be to allow registered members of the BSA to use the marks for the promotion of the BSA program, such as patches, newsletters, cerificates, training flyers, etc. THose who are using the marks for profit on unlicensed products, such as clothing, should be fair game for the lawyers.


To those who have the alleged "10 page document", could someone scan it and post it on the internet for us to read? I see no reason why it should be kept a "secret", since it affects us all.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a link to to Great Trails Council Policy on this.


I know the people involved this should not be a problem.





Policy Regarding Design and Creation of Patches and Memorabilia for District and Council Use

In keeping with a policy statement by the National Council in October 2006, the Great Trails Council has adopted the following policy regarding design and creation of patches and memorabilia for district and Council use.


Policy Regarding Design and Creation of Patches and Memorabilia for

District and Council Use


Great Trails Council, Boy Scouts of America December 2006




Any patches, medallions, memorabilia, belt buckles, or other items designed and produced for use by the Great Trails Council or by any district within the Great Trails Council must appropriately represent the aims and methods of the Scouting program.


All council or district designs for any patch or item must be approved by a council executive board approved volunteer committee before they are produced.


Additionally all orders must be placed by using a purchase order that is approved by the Scout executive before they are produced.


Failure to do so can result in nonpayment to the vendor with the individual who gave direction for production being held responsible for payment.


In October of 2006 the National Council, BSA, provided a statement regarding licensing of BSA trademarks. Reprinted are excerpts from that statement:


As the unauthorized use of BSA trademarked words, phrases, emblems, and insignia grows, the National Council must take action to prevent offensive, inappropriate, and inconsistent use of BSA trademark assets in the marketplace, and to protect these assets for future generations.


The National Council authorizes a local council to use BSA proprietary marks (i.e., insignia, words, phrases, designation marks, pictorial representations, and descriptive marks relating to the BSA) on materials created solely for the council to use in the promotion and delivery of the Scouting program.


All vendors providing materials to local councils that use BSA proprietary marks must be licensed by the BSA to engage in this activity.


A local council may not use BSA proprietary marks for commercial purposes (e.g., selling items bearing BSA proprietary marks to the general public), nor may a local council grant such rights, either actual or implied, to any third party.


It is absolutely important that all patches are reviewed, approved, and ordered with a purchase order. Failure to do so can result in the volunteer being held responsible for the payment.


All articles made with a BSA logo must be produced by licensed vendors who are registered with the BSA.


Additionally any vendor who does not follow the trademark requirements of the BSA may be held legally liable





Link to post
Share on other sites

"The National Council authorizes a local council to use BSA proprietary marks (i.e., insignia, words, phrases, designation marks, pictorial representations, and descriptive marks relating to the BSA) on materials created solely for the council to use in the promotion and delivery of the Scouting program."


So does this clause permit me, at the unit level, to use the proprietary marks as part of my unit program? For example, on my unit's letterhead, recruiting materials, powerpoint presentation, etc., where I do the design and production and no outside party is involved?


Does my unit "count" as being part of the Council's program?


I think the policy above does not address the things that matter the most to unit scouters. It seems to be directed primarily at district/council activities.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, this raises more questions.


Why can't we see the actual policy from National?


Which marks(i.e., insignia, words, phrases, designation marks, pictorial representations, and descriptive marks relating to the BSA) are "proprietary" and which are not? Is the word "Camp" proprietary? How about "Scout"? How about "Boy".


My council had jackets made up with the "Timeless Values" logo and council name embroidered, and sold them in the Scout Shop. Was that illegal and should they refund my 50 bucks?


The only threat seems to be that the "volunteer may be liable for the cost". What if I am willing to accept that liability?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Issuing a policy and taking action to protect the identity of an organization is not very uncommon. Particularly when the organization eventually intends to license their brand to vendors.


It is hard to convince vendors to pay you to use your identity when the trademarks are easily accessible (such on the internet) or produced very freely. You may have noticed all high-resolution graphics of the trademarks have been removed from National's website. With the new policy, National can demonstrate they are controlling who uses their identity.


There are many scenarios where the identity could be licensed to a vendor (including the traditional scenario of ordering patches). For example, XYZ Tent Co. could approach the Boy Scouts to license its identity to create a "Scout" edition tent. Obviously, a brand name tent with the Boy Scout mark could be commercially compelling and be financial beneficial to both sides.


Please don't get hyped up about this... it is hypothetical. Though, I would not be surprised if the National Council establishes a website soon with more information (particularly for vendors).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just asked an eBay vendor if he was licensed to be selling clothing items with registered trademark BSA logos on them. He is being very evasive and demanded my name and address before he will respond. I think that tells me all I need to know. They are not even very good reproductions. His eBay name is 2rats34. Since he won't answer my questions honestly, I'll probably report him to eBay. This is the kind of thing that BSA lawyers should be going after.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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


Actually a legal firm contracted by the BSA sends out a threatening cease and desist form letter to American youth organizations that use the generic, non-BSA fleur-de-lis emblem.


For those who are interested in legal opposition to the BSA's controversial trademark claims, see the "Youthscouts" legal news page:






Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...