Hacker Scouts Face Legal Action from Boy Scouts

Oakland-based science educators risk lawsuit from Boy Scouts of America.

By Chris Roberts
|  Friday, Aug 23, 2013  |  Updated 1:33 PM PDT
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Summer Camp Digs in to High Tech

AP

Legal muscle from the Boy Scouts of America may be applied to the Oakland-based Hacker Scouts.

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The Hacker Scouts don't go in the woods, don't learn how to make fire, and are otherwise unaffiliated and unmistakeably not involved with the Boy Scouts.

Except in court.

The Oakland-based nonprofit -- which "fosters science, engineering, and technology learning" -- is being threatened with a lawsuit by the Boy Scouts of America, according to the Oakland Tribune.

The Boy Scouts say they have "exclusive right" to the word "scout," according to the newspaper.

Samantha Cook, executive director of the Hacker Scouts, first received threatening word from the Boy Scouts in May. She went public only after it became clear that the Boy Scouts "were in no mood to cooperate" to resolve the dispute quietly, the newspaper reported.

"It seems ridiculous they can own that word," she told the newspaper.

Legal experts, while noting that the Hacker Scouts don't have badges, ranks and other features peculiar to the Boy Scouts, note that a likelihood of confusion between the Hacker and the Boy Scouts "is the legal question," the newspaper reported.

So is the word Scout enough?

Cook says that the Boy Scouts of America's deep pockets mean she may shy away from a legal fight -- and away from "serving kids," which is the stated mission of both groups.

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