Girl Scouts accuse Boy Scouts of 'damaging' recruitment tactics

The Girl Scouts organization accused the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) of "damaging" recruitment tactics after it opened its core services to girls.

On Thursday, documents were filed in federal court that seek to challenge a move by lawyers for the BSA to toss out a case of trademark infringement brought by the Girl Scouts in 2018. 

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America claim that the BSA has unfairly recruited girls, according to legal filings, The Associated Press reported.

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The Girl Scouts claim that the BSA's use of the terms "scouts" and "scouting" infringes on trademarks of the organization. 

However, lawyers for the Boy Scouts of America have previously called the claims "utterly meritless." 

According to the documents filed in Manhattan federal court Thursday, the Girl Scouts alleged the BSA's marketing of its services for girls was “extraordinary and highly damaging to Girl Scouts” adding that it ignited an “explosion of confusion." 

“As a result of Boy Scouts’ infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts,” the lawyers said, adding that this never occurred before 2018.

In the spring of 2018, the program for boys aged 11 to 17 announced that it would change its name to Scouts BSA to accommodate girls. The Boy Scouts of America, the parent organization, kept its name including its name for its younger cohorts called Cub Scouts, according to the AP. 

Scouts BSA began accepting girls in 2019. 

The Girl Scouts alleged they could prove “rampant instances of confusion and mistaken instances of association between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” following a slew of marketing content the BSA released targeting girls and parents with recruitment communications they'd not used before, according to the news source. 

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The Girl Scouts submitted documents from 19 of 250 local Boy Scout councils that reportedly showed instances where the Boys Scouts had to return registration fees to parents that mistook the organization for the Girl Scouts. 

The organization alleges that the BSA has blamed the confusion on everyone else but themselves, according to the wire service. 

The lawyers cited multiple examples from different chapters in states throughout the nation. One account alleged a Seattle Boy Scouts council used the Girl Scouts trademark in social media recruiting materials.

The BSA in a statement to The Hill called the organization's claims "inaccurate" and "dismissive" of girls who willingly decide to join Scouts BSA.

"To imply that confusion is a prevailing reason for their choice is not only inaccurate – with no legally admissible instance of this offered to date in the case – but it is also dismissive of the decisions of more than 120,000 girls and young women who have joined Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA since the programs became available to them," a spokesperson for the BSA said.

The statement added, "Our decision to expand our program offerings for girls came after years of requests from families who wanted the option of the BSA’s character-development and leadership-development programs for their children – boys and girls. We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the USA."

Updated Sunday at 5:58 p.m.