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Girls Scouts accuse Boy Scouts of poaching members in legal battle

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The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are locked in a battle over recruiting, with the Girl Scouts accusing the Boy Scouts of poaching potential members. 

The girls organization says that the Boy Scouts of America, or BSA, have been unfairly recruiting girls to its ranks, essentially raiding its membership base, amid dwindling enrollment in both groups, according to a legal brief.

The Boy Scouts have allowed girls to join its programs since 2018, "after years of requests from families" for boys and girls to venture and train together and for girls to have the opportunity to become Eagle Scouts — the highest honor awarded by the organization. 

But the Girl Scouts say BSA's new recruitment drive is "highly damaging" to its own brand and that the "infringement" has created a wave of confusion among parents who've mistakenly signed their daughters up for the wrong organization. 

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Scouts' dishonor?

In 2018, the Girl Scouts sued BSA for trademark infringement, alleging the boys organization used Girl Scouts imagery and slogans — including the terms and phrases "scout," "scouting," and "scout me in," in its advertising. 

"As a result of Boy Scouts' infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts," lawyers for the Girl Scouts said, adding that this hadn't been an issue prior to 2018, when the change was first made. 

Last month, the Boy Scouts called the suit "utterly meritless" and asked a judge to toss it out. 

On Christmas Eve, the Girl Scouts filed documents in federal court to challenge the move, saying BSA intended to create confusion about the organizations among recruits. 

"Boy Scouts knew for decades that the use by it of terms like scouts or scouting would be confusing unless it clearly identified the sponsor of services offered under those marks, but it went ahead and used these terms anyway," Thursday's filing read. "The rampant confusion and damage to the girl scouts brand was the predicted, and intended, result." 

BSA issued a statement in response, telling CBS News that young people join the organization for a variety of reasons and don't typically choose to join by mistake.

"To imply that confusion is a prevailing reason for their choice is not only inaccurate – with no legally admissible instance of this offered to date in the case – but it is also dismissive of the decisions of more than 120,000 girls and young women who have joined Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA since the programs became available to them," the BSA said. 

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