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Hacker Scouts youth group changes name to avoid Boy Scouts lawsuit

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Boy Scouts of America shutterstock
Boy Scouts of America shutterstock

It seems the Boy Scouts of America doesn't take trademark infringement lightly. Earlier this year, it sent a letter to the Hacker Scouts — a small youth group in Oakland, California — demanding that the parent-run organization change its name. BSA insisted it had a trademark on the word "scouts" and urged Hacker Scouts to exclude it from any new moniker. "As any organization would do, from time to time, it's necessary for the BSA to take steps to protect its intellectual property and brand," a spokesperson told The Los Angeles Times after the ongoing disagreement was publicized in a blog post.

BSA has recently followed that up with a second letter, and there doesn't seem to be much wiggle room: Hacker Scouts can either change its name or face litigation against the largest youth organization in the United States. After careful consideration, it's opting for the easy and less costly way out. "Our board has decided to close this matter and change our name," writes co-founder Samantha Matalone Cook.

"We know this will disappoint some of you. We know some of you wanted us to fight this," Cook writes. "We don't blame you. We had those same feelings." But the group ultimately decided to relent and rid its members of the distraction. "We have a chance to reinvent ourselves in some ways with a new name, which, once it is chosen, will allow us to move forward in several other areas." Cook also strongly believes that Congress should reexamine a 1919 Congressional charter that the Boy Scouts of America says gives it exclusive ownership of "scouts."