Get real: PatchScan app, official BSA hologram make it easy to see what’s legit

hologram-patch“Only three of these patches were ever made. Baden-Powell’s granddaughter sewed each one by hand using thread from a jacket once worn by James E. West.”

Does that patch-trading pitch make your Spidey sense tingle?

In the past, you might have just laughed, said “no deal” and walked away. Now, verifying the claim is as easy as pulling out your smartphone.

The Boy Scouts of America’s official, free PatchScan app, available for iOS and Android devices, takes the guesswork out of patch trading and reduces your chances of trading for a “limited-edition” patch that’s actually 1 of 50,000.

The process is simple. You open the app, scan the QR code on the back of a patch and wait for the patch’s stats to appear on screen.

Why is this app necessary? Because while we all know Scouts and Scouters are trustworthy, some odious outsiders see creating faux BSA memorabilia as a way to make a quick buck.

PatchScan (which I first told you about during the 2013 jamboree) is one of two tools the BSA’s Supply Group has in place to help you identify authentic products. The other is a hologram, like the one seen above, that tells you you’re holding an officially licensed product. Look for it on BSA merchandise including headwear, apparel, patches and more.

The BSA isn’t the first to use these shiny identifiers. Sports leagues, for example, have for years used holograms to signify authentic jerseys, hats and T-shirts.

PatchScan, meanwhile, has already been used more than 100,000 times by Scouts and Scouters looking for a leg up in the game of patch trading and collecting. QR codes will become mandatory on council shoulder patches, jamboree shoulder patches, OA lodge flaps and pocket patches, and sets of flaps or CSPs beginning in June 2014.

Learn more and see some screenshots after the jump.

Key Facts about PatchScan
  • Cost: Adding QR codes won’t increase the cost of most patches. The majority (84 percent) of the BSA’s licensees indicated they do not intend to raise the base price of patches to cover the minimal costs of adding these unique identifying codes.
  • QR code optional: The QR Code does not have to be applied to event patches such as those for camporees, Polar Bear, or similar events; however, the code may be applied to event patches at the council’s request, or at the licensee’s discretion.
  • QR code mandatory: BSA Licensees must affix QR code stickers to Jamboree Shoulder Patches, Council Shoulder Patches (including special CSPs, such as FOS, Eagle Scout, etc.), Order of the Arrow Lodge Flaps and pocket patch sets delivered to a customer on or after June 1, 2014.
  • No QR code? A patch without a QR code isn’t automatically fake. Authentic patches created before June 1, 2014, might have a hologram sticker or a BSA licensee logo in the backing.
  • 2013 Jamboree success: The PatchScan App was downloaded 6,250 times during the jamboree.
  • Number of scans: There have been 112,464 total scans of patches with 77,908 (69 percent) of those occurring during the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.
  • Why PatchScan exists: Supply says: “We believe the implementation of PatchScan supports the corporate directive and strategy to help ‘make Scouting cool,’ which does indirectly support membership growth and retention. With the majority of Scouting-aged youth using mobile technologies, it is imperative to incorporate such technologies into the everyday passions of Scouts — passions like patch collecting — to demonstrate the BSA’s understanding of the role technology plays in our culture today, and integrate such technology into the program where appropriate.”
  • How PatchScan helps BSA: Supply says: “It also supports the organizational strategy to protect and build the BSA brand. The PatchScan app helps youth understand the importance of brand, authenticity and the long-term value of protecting the organization’s intellectual property from infringement.”
PatchScan screenshots






Related post: 2013 Jamboree Scouts show off their favorite patches

Special thanks to David Harkins with the Supply Group for the info


    • Moritz Embroidery Works is one of the leading professional manufacturers of embroidered emblems (patches), neckerchiefs, and promotional products. The company is an official BSA licensee for manufacturing embroidered emblems and promotional products and is fully capable of manufacturing quality, custom patches that fit the needs (and budget) of any local council, district, OA lodge, summer camp, individual unit, and Scouting event.

      We work with the BSA National Licensing department to get all designs BSA-approved and include custom BSA PVC backing on all emblems and include PatchScan QR stickers and holographic stickers/tags where required to help protect the BSA brand and promote the Scouting program.

      Visit, or call us (toll free) at 800-533-4183, for more information on the various products and services that we can offer Scouts.

  1. Simple solution. Only buy/wear those patches that you actually earned or those that directly impinge on your bailiwick. Otherwise, buy it if it’s cool. If it isn’t cool or you didn’t earn it, don’t buy it. No need for holograms, just have fun trading. If a patch is rare and you weren’t able to buy it when it was being sold for some reason, don’t sweat it. Life is like that sometimes, chalk it up to experience and move on. No solution needed for custom scouting event patches, because then they’d be the same as “real” patches, because you know, they are real patches.

  2. Ok so what about patches that are old enough not to have the hologram or the code? Still taking chances there right? I mean those are the ones that it would seem to me are the ones that are being falsified……….

  3. I have some thoughts about Patchscan. Sure Patchscan shouldn’t be needed…but the reality is it’s a good tool for those that care.

    I attended the 1981 NSJ as a youth and traded with many youth and adults. I was not ready to catch the patch bug at the time and had a blast trying to collect as much as I could. Some patches were represented as ultra rare once per life type patches…they were not. But the reality is, I DON’T CARE. I received one of the “rare” Mic-O-Say round patches…turned out to be fake. It was the experience that I enjoyed. I wouldn’t trade away or sell any of those patches for any reason. They are part of my experience. Sure lessons were learned. Where the Malibu OA flaps with 17 colors really worth 6:1 trades? No. But at the time they were (I have one each of two variants). Sure more colors costs more…but is it worth 6:1? This app gives some useful information to those that care. You can see number of patches made and other cool information such as other patches in the set. It’s not for everyone but it’s a great tool.

    My problem with the app is that QR codes are simply stickers. QR codes and holograms fall off fairly often. They don’t guarantee authenticity. They simply give a link to the page to tell you about the patch. A fake can be made and a real sticker can be produced and stuck on it. Or even a fake sticker can be made. There is no guarantee. The purpose here was more to give you information on quantity made and rarity. So why does the app not have the ability to lookup information on a patch without needing the QR code? The website allows a council name search and I suggest the app should as well. Many Scouts will want a certain patch and might waste all their time looking for one to even scan to know the information and find they really don’t care as much as they thought. All the lookup to be done manually please.

    I think if the records are available then past production information should be added to the database as well. At the 2013 NSJ our council made sets from an authorized manufacturer and while they did come with holograms they didn’t have QR codes. Is the hologram number unique per patch design? If so, allow a lookup with that as well in case the QR code is missing or it’s an older product before QR codes.

    Lastly, if a group orders 500 patches and they are popular and they later decide to have a second run of 250 made, I think these should be shown on the page and each batch should have a unique QR code/hologram number. Not always, but on occasion, second and future runs can have small differences that are noted as variants. Having the code be different would make it easier to possibly identify differences for those that car. Even within one run you can see differences (like twill left or twill right in the background or the backing is a different material) but this could help get rid of a lot of guessing (assuming the stickers stay on). Is there any chance of the sticker being made of a fairly strong material that won’t rip and throwing in a few stitches to secure it on the back? or would that add to much cost? The bigger issue I have at the moment is stickers that fall off or are taken off (most remove them before sewing onto a uniform).

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