Apparently Boy Scouts Have a Trademark on “Scouts,” Force Hacker Scouts To Change Name

Yeah, let's hope they don't hear about the Eternal Scouts.
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Did you know that the Boy Scouts of America are the only group that’s allowed to call themselves “Scouts?” (which the exception of the Girl Scouts, of course). Neither did we — and neither did the Hacker Scouts, who are now going to have to change their name or face lawsuits. Sigh.

The Hacker scouts is a small Oakland-based nonprofit that focuses on science, technology, engineering, art, and math education for kids. Though the group was only founded about a year ago, it’s been amassing a decent amount of followers in the California area, which is probably why it got the attention of the Boy Scouts of America in the first place. They first sent the Hacker Scouts a cease-and-desist letter in August, and then a second one two weeks ago, telling them that the BSA would seek legal action if the name remained unchanged.

According to the letter, the BSA has a trademark on the term “scouts” that was given to them via a 1919 Congressional charter (which also includes the Girl Scouts, as well as a number of other unaffiliated non-scout groups). However, there are a lot of other popular groups that use the title as well and who haven’t faced any repercussions — the Adventure Scouts and Earth Scouts, for example. So why did the BSA target Hacker Scouts specifically? Does it have something to do with the negative connotations that the word “hacker” had to a wider audience?

Regardless of the motives behind this threatened lawsuit, the Hacker Scouts have ultimately decided to give up the term and find a new name for themselves. Co-founder Samantha Matalone Cook explained the decision on the group’s website:

We know this will disappoint some of you. We know some of you wanted us to fight this. We don’t blame you. We had those same feelings. But our job is to keep our organization focused on its mission. Our job is to make this kind of education as accessible and affordable to as many kids as we can. It came down to how does this further our goals and objectives? And it doesn’t.

They have yet to pick a name, but as the Hacker Scout board explained in the same statement, they see this as a way to rebrand themselves and expand beyond the California area. Besides, the kids who come to their events don’t quite care what the group is called as long as they get to do cool science experiments and learn a bunch of stuff. They’re pretty much the best kind of children imaginable.

(via Ars Technica, image via Austronesian Expeditions)

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