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Boy Scouts Bully Hacker Scouts Into Submission 289

b1tbkt writes "Youth-focused Maker organization 'Hacker Scouts' has announced their decision to surrender their name due to bullying by the Boy Scouts of America. It appears that BSA has interpreted their federal charter to include a claim on any and all use of the term 'Scout' in an organization's name. The litmus test for such a claim, so far as I'm aware, is the likelihood of causing confusion. The term 'Scout' is sufficiently generic, though, and by this reasoning most every airline in the world would need to eliminate 'Airlines' from their name."
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Boy Scouts Bully Hacker Scouts Into Submission

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  • Letter (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:20PM (#44951639)

    Letter from Camp

    Dear Mom,

    Our scout master told us all write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and worried. We are OK. Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yes, please call Chad's mother and tell her he is OK. He can't write because of the cast.

    I got to ride in one of the search & rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn't been for the lightning.

    Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn't hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn't burn, but one of our tents did. Also some of our clothes. John is going to look weird until his hair grows back.

    We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked OK when we left. Scoutmaster Webb said with a car that old you have to expect something to break down; that's probably why he can't get insurance on it. We think it's a neat car. He doesn't care if we get it dirty, and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. IT gets pretty hot with 10 people in a car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and talked to us.

    Scoutmaster Webb is a neat guy. Don't worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Terry how to drive. But he only lets him drive on the mountain roads where there isn't any traffic. All we ever see up there are logging trucks.

    This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Webb wouldn't let me because I can't swim and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe
    across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Scoutmaster Webb isn't crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn't even get mad about the life jackets. He has to spend a lot of time working on the car so we are trying not to cause him any trouble.

    Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works.

    Also Wade and I threw up. Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken, he said they got sick that way with the food they ate in prison. I'm so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster.
    He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing time.

    I have to go now. We are going into town to mail our letters and buy bullets. Don't worry about anything. We are fine.

    Love your son,


    P.S. How long has it been since I had a tetanus shot?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:24PM (#44951677)

    Aha, worked for my pr0n folder too

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:26PM (#44951703)

    Could they change their name to Boy Hackers Of America?

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:27PM (#44951713)

    No, learn how copyright law works. The BAS is forced to do so by interpretations from the last few decades. Further, it's a deliberate re-use of their brand name; not just "scout" as in the dictionary definition, but in the specific context of non-profit national youth organization.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:30PM (#44951759) Homepage
      This AC is exactly right. There's no way the name "hacker scouts" wasn't inspired by the boy scouts and frankly it could well mislead people into thinking their is a relationship between the two organisations. It isn't bullying when you rip off someone else and they ask you to stop.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:35PM (#44951815)

      You mean trademark law.
      Copyright law has no such provision.

    • Then why aren't they going after the Girl Scouts []? That is a competing organization with an extremely similar name and siimilar product.

      • by Golddess (1361003)

        siimilar product.

        Can't say I've ever thought of popcorn as being similar to cookies. But I suppose they are both junk food.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        For those who are still living in their parent's basement and haven't run into any of these yet, "girls" are different than "boys", and most people understand that the two are (almost always) mutually exclusive. This is different than "hacker" and "boy", which through an odd twist of STEM inequities, are closer to synonyms than antonyms.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Girl Scouts is not a competing organization due to the 1) gender bias of the respective organizations 2) the biologically bifurcated gender system that we all come from* 3) Each organization already formally recognizes the other as non-competing entities (see #'s 1 & 2).

        * I am talking about most of society - not the small number of exceptions nor folks that think they are exceptions.

        As for the origins of the GS and BS... The Girl Scouts / Girl Guides, the parent worldwide organization of the GSA were fo

        • by azadrozny (576352)

          The Girl Scouts of the USA [] were founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. Also, I am not sure that they can't be considered non-competing entities. The BSA has a co-ed Venturing program.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @04:40PM (#44953587)

      Learn some history, BSA lobbied for a charter from Congress specifically to get the competition out of business: []

      Paul Sleman, Colin H. Livingstone, Ernest S. Martin and James E. West successfully lobbied Congress for a federal charter for the BSA–partly as a way to deal with competition from the Lone Scouts of America,[24] which President Woodrow Wilson signed on June 15, 1916

      Good old capitalism, when you can't deal with competition, you bribe, er, "lobby" various legislative/government officials to put them out of business.

      The BSA is not some poor group that is "forced" to do anything here by big bad government copyright law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:29PM (#44951737)

    They have to defend their trademark, or they will lose it. IMHO, "Hacker Scouts" is confusing and when I first heard it I thought it was a Scout-related computer group.

    • by drevange (2365548)
      Agree, I also though it maybe was a related group. The need to defend is there. They also were not bullying - it was a response during the normal trademark application process. I like both Boy Scouts and the "maker" community and agree there would be a high level of interest. Unfortunately the Maker Scouts was a pretty blatant infringement, even in how they were structuring things.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by h4rr4r (612664)

        No need to defend, the Hacker Scouts should gladly change their name so they are not assumed to be involved with those bigots.

    • by thaylin (555395)
      And the girl scouts?
      • People assume there is a relationship between the Boy Scout organization and the Girl Scout organization because of their names. I assume they have an agreement on sharing the mark.
    • by azadrozny (576352)

      When the BSA changed is policy in May with respect to gay scouts, several groups began to organize Boy Scout-like programs (sans the gays). Several of these groups initially tried to use a form of the word "scout" in their name, or the trademarked Fleur-de-li as part of their logo. I think it is safe to assume that the BSA has stepped up enforcement of its trademarks and copyrights, in an effort to keep these groups from building on their name.

    • Agreed. I can't seem to come up with any reason a hacker group would have anything to do with scouting in the general sense, unless the hacked tech is exclusively used to scout new territories.

      It only makes sense if they're trying to ride on the coattails of the Boy Scouts, presumably believing it's a respectable org because they don't realize that bigots have had control of that organization for a while.

      I was a Boy Scout long before they started spewing Conservative hate, and have been really disapp
    • Neither "Hacker Scouts" nor "Scouts" is on the list, making your claim that they need to defend their non-existent trademark rather ironic, don't you think. Also, I was unaware that this vehicle [] was manufactured by the BSA. I'm also wondering why they haven't gone after this organization [], when it's a pretty well known fact that many of the BSA adults hate pussies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:30PM (#44951751)

    In this particular case I think there is some merit. The goals of the organizations, how they operate, and the "user base" are similar. "Scouts" is nowhere near as generic as "airlines". Obviously the Hacker Scouts is specifically named after the Boy/Girl Scouts.

    It's more like me marketing a cereal called "Apple Loops" or something. Generic words but I wouldn't last 2 seconds in court against Kellogg's because I'm targeting the same audience just like Hacker Scouts is targeting the same people as the other "Scouts".

  • What bullying tactics were employed beyond "change your name or we'll sue"?

    Because if that's it... I'm not sure why they caved. "Scout" is a pretty generic word.

  • Bullying? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David_Hart (1184661) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:41PM (#44951899)

    "I don't think that word means what you think it means".

    Since when is protecting your trademarked name bullying? It's simply business. The law forces organizations to do this or they lose their right to their own name. Like the Boy Scouts or not, the problem here is the law.

    • Absolutely. If you don't try to protect your trademark, you lose it.
      And I could definitely see the confusion with the general public.
      Most hackers are boys.
      And the general public imagines them as boys down in the basement of their house and never getting out except when going camping in the scary woods with the scoutmaster who snuggles them tightly inside his tent all night long to protect them from lions and tigers and bears and Oh My! And then they figure that's probably why all those lonely hacker boys
    • Re:Bullying? (Score:4, Informative)

      by geek (5680) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:49PM (#44952003) Homepage

      I always know when Soulskill is posting articles because they are nothing more than inflamatory bullshit.

    • bullying and business are not mutually exclusive. That IS the business model of some corporations.

    • by dissy (172727)

      "I don't think that word means what you think it means".
      Since when is protecting your trademarked name bullying?

      Ever since they claimed "scouts" was their trademark when in fact it is not.

      Here is a listing of all of their actual real trademarks that begin with the letters "SC":
      â Scoutfitter®
      â Scout Gearâ
      â Scouting®
      â Scouting USA®
      â Scoutmaster®
      â Scoutnet®
      â Scout Shop®
      â Scout Stuff®

      Here is a listing of all their trademarks beginning with the letter "H" (as in hack/hacking):

      (Yes this list is empty, b

  • I was a cub scout, and a boy scout.

    I was also a Cavalry Scout in the United States Army. MOS is 19D.

    "Scouts" as a term predates Baden-Powell (the founder of the scouting movement). He took the term from the definition of reconnoitering - "scouting".

    I don't know about the legal ramifications, but I know that they aren't the only organization to use the term "Scouts"

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:55PM (#44952065)

    I can remember a day when Boy Scouts of America would have been approving of something like because they would have shared a central theme; curiosity, experimentation, education, science -- all good things to interest young people. It's disappointing to see the BSA stooping to such douchenozzly levels. The have apparently lost enough positive virutue I would not want to be associated with them today.

    • BSA has Trademarks that are 'infringed' by this organization's name - which you are required to actively defend against anything that could be infringing - otherwise you lose your Trademark. (This is not true with Copyrights, just Trademarks)

      As a fellow Eagle Scout, I agree it isn't wonderful or ideal behavior - but if they want to keep their name (and with all the splinter-orgs as a result of their recent decision regarding Youth membership, there are plenty) and uniqueness in 'Brand Identity' they have t

    • The purpose of branding is to offer consumers information about the product - in this case if an organisation is branded 'Scouts', then it carries an assurance that it conforms to their rules, procedures etc. If the name is released from having that meaning, information for parents is lost. Therefore it is reasonable for the scouts national organisation to require the hacker scouts to use an alternative title.
  • what organization has more lawyers. That's what US law is about.

  • Bullying? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zalbik (308903) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:17PM (#44952407)

    Wow, that's quite the bullying there.

    Once the BSA found out about the name, they sent some of their older members over to intimidate, physically threaten, and wedgie the heck out of the HS kids until they agreed to the name change., they didn't.

    Ahh, they verbally abused the HS group, calling them a bunch of whiny geeks with no right to the name.

    No, they didn't do that either.

    Oh....they sent a letter, asking that the HS change their name as they felt it may be confusing with their organization. If they failed to comply, they were willing to allow the courts (you know, that group your tax dollars go to partially in order to settle this kind of dispute?) decide on the matter.

    Yep, that's quite the "bullying" there.

    I've gotta start keeping score on Slashdot. 1 point for every misleading, sensationalist, or simply factually incorrect headline I see. At 10 points a month my reward is to quit reading this stupid site.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:30PM (#44952605)

    While it's fun to ridicule the boy scouts, from the Hacker Scouts own web site:

    Hacker Scouts is an inclusive, diverse, co-ed organization designed to support the next generation of makers, explorers, entrepreneurs, and leaders through an innovative program that blends creativity and technical skill through the study of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). Every part of our organization is guided by the fundamental belief that children learn best when they are self-motivated and enthusiastic about a subject, when they have skilled mentors, and when the environment supports their social, emotional, and cognitive developmental needs. In Hacker Scouts, kids have the opportunity to explore new concepts and skills, focus on their individual goals, and create community. This makes us unlike any other program. In a quickly changing world, Hacker Scouts provides a relevant, consistent, well-rounded foundation of knowledge combined with an emphasis on values like resourcefulness, ingenuity, creativity, and persistance that will support our kid's ability to adapt to new technology, now and in the future.


    While most of our activities are targeted at the 8-14 year old range, all ages are welcome at Hacker Scouts Open Lab. Because Open Lab is not a drop off program, parents and mentors are available to help modify projects for younger makers.

    It would appear that they target the same age groups as the boy scouts (including cub scouts) and even hold scout sunday events like the boy scouts. It's not too far of a reach to see why the boy scouts might say there could be confusion between the two. After all, in terms of official scouting, there are Cub Scouts (including TIger Scout, Wolf Scout, Bear Scout Webelos Scout), Boy Scouts, Explorer Scouts, Adventure Scouts and probably others. Who is to say somebody wouldn't think that Hacker Scout wasn't part of that group?

    Just saying, that in this case, the boy scout organization, might have a valid point.

  • by (919212) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:59PM (#44953017)

    ...then you effectively are proving everyone knows what the term Scout is used for in reference to youth organizations. They could as easily been the Hacker Pioneers, the Hacker Navigators or the Hacker Pathfinders.

    I know this will be unpopular, but this is probably one of the less bad infringement cases I have heard of.

  • Hackers should not call themselves scouts for fear to be seen as a paramilitary org...
    (disclaimer, I was a "ranger scout" for some time to the great distress of my parents, but really it's antiquated, and sex segregated ...

    Young Makers or something like this is much better, or maybe "Wizards" :-)

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

    They should change it to "Hacker Chariot Archers". Scouts are weak-ass units that die in almost any fight. Chariot archers will fuck their shit up.

  • I think the word "scout" is synonymous with the BSA, and they should own that word. They, however, do not own the words "the", "boy", and "America", and should be forced to stop using those words in their name.
  • Anyone else have trouble parsing this headline, thanks to multiple words that are both nouns and verbs? I first read it as "Boy Scouts (v.) [Bully Hacker] Scouts (v.)..." and it took another couple of goes before it made sense.

Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death. -- James F. Byrnes