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Is the word Scout or Scouts Copyrighted or Trademarked?




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This article is from the Scouting FAQ, by Bill Nelson nelsonb@nospam.aztec.asu.edu, Soaring Golden Eagle eagle@rangernet.org and Alan Houser troop24@emf.net with numerous contributions by others.

Is the word Scout or Scouts Copyrighted or Trademarked?

Date: 23 Dec 1998

The BSA "owns" the names "Boy Scouts of America", "Scout", "Boy
Scouting", and "Scouting", as used within the United States. This is
granted by a FEDERAL CHARTER from our Congress, and under this
charter, the Government of the United States granted the organization
called corporately "Boy Scouts of America" the sole and exclusive
right to have and to use, in carrying out its purposes, all emblems
and badges, descriptive or designating marks, and words or phrases now
or heretofore used by the Boy Scouts of America in carrying out its
program.

The GSUSA also holds a federal charter on its title.

According to a House of Representatives report accompanying the Bill
incorporating the Boy Scouts: "If any boy can secure these badges
without meeting the required test the badges will soon be meaningless
and one of the leading features of the Scout program will be
lost. Likewise with the uniform which designates the Scout. At the
present time this is protected by the use of insignia - a seal woven
or stamped into the cloth. All of these various badges and insignia
are at present protected by the patent laws but under the patent laws
such protection is available for a limited period only. The passing by
Congress of this bill will, it is believed, provide the organization
with protection for its distinctive insignia, the integrity of which
is essential to the maintenance of the movement, and protect it from
those who are seeking to profit by the good repute and high standing
and popularity of the Scout movement by imitating it in name alone."

Both BSA and GSUSA have a large number of registered
trademarks for different aspects of the Scouting program. All printed
material, such as the Handbook, is protected by copyright.

The Congress has also granted federal charters to:

*The American Red Cross (which keeps other organizations and programs
from using "Red Cross" and the emblematic red cross; the BSA was
caught in this and when the ARC threatened to sue the BSA over this,
the BSA changed their First Aid Merit badge to a GREEN CROSS with a
RED background. This is also why the Safety Merit Badge has a WHITE
CROSS (instead of "Green Cross for Safety{tm}", which is a registered
trademark of the National Safety Council) with a GREEN background)

*The American Legion (which has trademarked the word "Legionnaire" as
used in the United States, to refer to members of their organization;
of course, those everywhere in the world using the word "Legionnaire"
may be referring to the French Foreign Legion or to the American
Legion or several other "legions".)

The federal charter is little more than a trademark law. Most
organizations hold trademarks and to do so, they get laws passed on
either the State or Federal level. Some of these organizations
discriminate in religious afiliation or gender.

Other congressional charters have gone to:
The Girl Scouts
Future Farmers of America
The Red Cross
Pershing Hall Memorial Fund
The Foundation of the Federal Bar Association
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Big Brothers - Big Sisters of America
Jewish War Veterans, U.S.A., National Memorial, Inc.
Blue Star Mothers of America
National Woman's Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the
Republic
Little League Baseball, Inc.
Gold Star Wives of America
National Society, Daughters of the American Colonists
General Federation of Women's Clubs

and many more...

The Federal Charter can be found at:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/36/ch2.html

 

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