The Hacker Scouts understand that Congress gave the Boy Scouts the exclusive right to use the “emblems, badges, descriptive or designating marks, and words or phrases” that they adopt. 36 U.S.C § 30905. As courts have recognized, however, the word “scout” is “a word of common speech, which all are entitled prima facie to use,” and therefore “there might be some question whether the word ‘scout,’ taken by itself, [is] within the ‘words or phrases’ used by the [Boy Scouts] in carrying out [their] program.” Adolph Kastor & Bros., v. Federal Trade Commission, 138 F. 2d 824, 826 (2d Cir. 1943). Put simply, “[w]hether the statute is meant to go so far as to protect a single word broken from its context might be open to debate.” Id.
The generic nature of the word “scout” is borne out by the number of U.S. organizations using it in their names. A quick Google search reveals the Code Scouts, the Frontier Market Scouts, the Health Care Scouts, the Dog Scouts, the Madison Scouts, the Xeniascouts, the Earthscouts, the 55th Cascadia Scouts and any number of other “scout” organizations, many of which have been around for years. The Hacker Scouts would very much like to be part of that group and continue to use “scout” in its name.
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