Back in May 2013, the Boy Scouts of America sent a Cease and Desist letter to local tech/kids group Hacker Scouts, which teaches tech & maker skills to youth, when they tried to trademark their name, saying it infringed on the Boy Scouts of America trademarks– and they needed to change the Hacker Scouts name to something else or face legal action.

(For Oaklanders, this story of the big org going after the little org may sound familiar–back in 2010, when local restaurant Homeroom was planning its launch, the original name was little mac and MacDonald’s sent them a cease and desist and they changed their name.)

But the Hack Scouts founder, Oaklander Samantha Matalone Cook, says she doesn’t agree. “There are so many scouting organizations around the country that it doesn’t make any sense for them to prohibit the use of the name,” Cook recently told SF Business Journal.

So here we are in August and Hack Scouts in going into the Fall using its original name. In fact, allies of the group did some digging and share that the BSA actually has not trademarked the words “scouts” or “scout,” –even though they have trademarked some phrases with the word “scout” in the phrase.

So what’s the latest latest?

According to Cook, “we have recently sent one last letter to the BSA, hoping for an amicable compromise. ”

Undoubtly, more to come.

About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local ( a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

2 Responses

  1. Gary Wilson

    It’s pretty clear from the two federal charters that the use of the term “Scouts” for any youth organization has been reserved by Congress for the BSA and the GSUSA alone. I’m surprised that the “Hacker Scouts” weren’t technology proficient enough to do a Google Search to easily find that out before they attempted to trade mark their name.

    BSA and GSUSA have won numerous disputes along these very same lines over the past 100 years, including one against someone as rich as William Randolph Hearst. Under US patent and copyright law, they are REQUIRED to warn and, if need be sue, in order to protect their intellectual capital when they learn of any infringement, so it’s not “bullying”.

    I suggest the “Hacker Scouts” simply change their name to something like “Hacker Kids” and avoid wasting their money on a lawsuit they will inevitably lose.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.