Two weeks ago, we celebrated National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend with a discussion of licensing agreements and cookie trademarks.
This Sunday, the Girl Scouts of the United States (GSUSA) turns 105!
Juliette Gordon Low returned to Georgia after several years in the UK (where she was a close friend of Lord Robert Baden-Powell — the founder of the Boy Scouts — and his sister, Agnes) saying, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight.”
She formed the first two American Girl Guide patrols on March 12, 1912 by registering eighteen girls to play basketball, hike, camp, swim, and tell time by the stars during a time when this behavior was not considered proper for “young ladies.”
Besides being a progressive force for social change, Low also contributed to the intellectual property system by being an inventor. Yes, an inventor. In fact, the USPTO even honors her contributions with an Inventor Trading Card!
So what did the Girl Scouts founder invent? She held two patents during her lifetime: a utility patent for a liquid container to use in trash cans and a design patent for a badge shaped like a “Trefoil” symbolizing the three parts to the Girl Scout Promise. The Trefoil design is now a registered trademark of GSUSA and has identified its members for over 100 years.
You can help your children celebrate the Girl Scouts’ Birthday by following the instructions in Patent 1,124,925 and creating your own paper trash can liner. The USPTO has some great STEM activities available for rainy day science projects.
Juliette Gordon Low’s trash can liner patent may have fallen into the public domain more than 80 years ago, but her greatest invention of all continues to endure. Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts!
HEATHER A. SAPP is the Senior Trademark Attorney at LegalForce RAPC. Prior to joining LegalForce, Heather was a Trademark Examining Attorney at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for more than a decade, and before that she was a Legal Fellow for the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property under then-Ranking Member Congressman Howard Berman. She also holds an LLM in Intellectual Property with High Honors from George Washington University School of Law. Heather is a popular speaker on the writers’ conference circuit, speaking on intellectual property issues for authors under her Young Adult fiction pen name, Amanda Brice. In her spare time, she’s also the leader of Daisy Troop 4562 in the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital Council.