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August 09, 2007

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Jon

The key is:

"J&J also claims that the Red Cross only has the right to use the trademark "in connection with nonprofit relief services."

Johnson and Johnson own the Registered Trademark and may have lost it due to not defending it, we'll see.

However, it's not at all bizzare that The Red Cross should be enjoined from commercial exploitation of that mark. Just because they want to make more money (yeah, not profit, but what is their overhead to service delivery ratio?)

Regardless, there is a difference between commercial and non commercial institutions and the uses of a mark. Commercially this belongs to J&J, nothing bizzare at all.

The OP is a classic bit of biased crap faux journalism IMNSHO. What's the motive? Monetizing Clicks Baby. SEO.

And so it goes...

ted

The Red Cross logo dates from 1864. It was chosen to honor the founder of the organization and his native country, Switzerland, of which the logo is a reverse image of their national flag.

Jo Summertime

The red cross have litigated against Australia fashion label "Fashion Assassin" for using a cross too similar to the red cross logo on a pair of jeans. I find it poetic justice that Red Cross are now being sued.

Robert

Wasn't the Red Cross suing or threatening to sue video game designers recently? If I recall correctly they wanted them to stop slapping the logo on first aid kits in game.

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/09/canadian_red_cross_w.html

Kitsunemisao

Personally, I think the REd Cross (the logo) isn't a trademark logo but more of a sign to indicate health or aid. Like those chemical Logos they have and stuff

confession

Does anyone know how, where and when the red cross adopted it's symbol?

Raul

Commercially or legally you can discuss this matter, but politically it's the dumbest move you could do as a pharmaceutical company! At the time when Big Pharmas are looked at as the evil by politicians and citizens all over the world (Novartis-India, Vioxx-FDA, multi-billion earnings,etc.), sueing the biggest humanitarian organisation over a century-old-logo copyright issue is plainly STUPID ! I can only imagine the comments on any newspaper : "Multi-Billion-Dollars-Big-Pharma wants money from suffer-relieving not-for-profit organisation" : BEST PR EVER !

Simon

J&J will be thankful that they sell gauze and bandages as they sure have shot themselves in the foot with this move!

poiuz

I'm no lawyer, but isn't there something in copyright and patent law that is called "prior art". I just read the wikipedia arcticle (yeah I know it's no sound source, but I think simple things as founding dates should be correct) and it states that in 1864 was even the first mission under the red cross. Furthermore, the American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton.

So, when the company claims to use their logo since 1887 don't this also say they ripped it. And even if not, they clearly came up with the same idea years later.

Budda Magoo

The American Red Cross is just getting a dose of their own medicine, and they've started a war on themselves.

"The fact that the Red Cross is also used in videos which contain strong language and violence is also of concern to us in that they directly conflict with the basic humanitarian principles espoused by the Red Cross movement,'' Pratt said in a Jan. 31 letter to a Vancouver law firm that represents several Canadian game developers. "The crux of the problem is that the misuse of the Red Cross in video games is not only in contravention of the law, it also encourages others to believe that the emblem of the Red Cross is `public property' and can be freely used by any organization or indeed for commercial purposes."

John Mack

Both have ripped off the logo from the Christian crusaders:

"Although originally adopted as a symbol of neutrality, the Red Cross is considered offensive to many in the Middle East and Muslim countries since it bears striking similarities to the symbols that adorned the tunics and shields of Christian knights during the Holy Crusades. In response to this misperception, Turkey adopted the Red Crescent, which has religious connotations rooted in Islamic faith, and it was accepted as an additional symbol of the Movement at the Geneva Convention of 1929."

"misperception" or not, the "red cross" was a symbol used by knights in the crusades.

See http://www.thoughtsondesign.com/september-october

Nonrandom Chaos

First, this is a trademark dispute which bears little relationship to patents and copyrights. Prior Art does not apply.

Of course, J&J has very little case. Trademarks are required to be defended. If someone starts using your trademark and you don't attack them, it is legally considered generic. The fact that J&J has not defended their trademark for over a century means that any court will conclude that they have not defended their trademark and it is a generic term.

This is what happened with aspirin. That was originally a brand name, but it wasn't defended when third parties also started marketing aspirin. Unlike copyright, you can't ignore trademark violators - if you do, you loose the trademark.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark

TERRY

NEXT THEY WILL SUE THE ARMY FOR USING IT

TERRY

NEXT THEY WILL SUE THE ARMY FOR USING IT

Jen Zingsheim

Whether it's the worst PR move in a day, month, year, or decade may be up for debate, but hands-down, this is awful PR.

Almost unbelievable. It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

Jen

Greg S.

I think this is a ridiculous move by J&J. The Red Cross is a company that helps people and poses no threat to J&J's market share. When people think of J&J they dont put the cross in their mind, they think of the company as a whole and what they offer. The Red Cross is known for that symbol. With this PR now it is going to bring a sour taste to people's mind about J&J. It is a universal sysmbol of aid, not a marketing symbol.

Peter O'Connell

Well, it sounds like bad PR on the surface but in reading a bit about it (albeit from J& J's perspective) HAS the ARC been doing things with its logo it should NOT do?

http://www.jnj.com/news/jnj_news/20070809_081717.htm

- Peter

Jeremy

Regardless if J&J has a case, whether they've allowed their trademark to be used for a century - please don't forget that company's spend billions each year on marketing to assure consumers they're the friendly, insert_desired_outcome_here choice. The $10 M that they said they are out yearly is a drop compared with the cash they are going to have to put out to erase this from US consumers.

From a business perspective it really makes zero sense. I can tell you, I will think twice about buying their product, regardless of they are legally entitled. And in the end, its a consumer that charts the outcome of a company - not the courts.

Smith

If the blogger had done his research, he would have included that the Red Cross is licensing, for profit, the cross symbol out to companies whose products directly compete with those of J&J. Leaving this out makes it less sensational though. I would sue them too.

mwelinder

the red cross "logo" with contextual relevance dates back to the knights templar (1086-ish) and the knights hospitaller (1080 -/+). the hospitallers specifically were specifically chartered with taking care of sick and poor pilgrims on their way to the holy land. After napoleon captured malta from the order some parts of it splintered off, but the order is still active. for example, google the order of st. john (they have a us web site). in summary, there are organizations who have been using the red cross logo for over nine hundred years. this legal scuffle for the rights to the imagery associated with a universal symbol is truly pathetic.

free iphone

That sucks

Steve Woodruff

I find it amazing that so few seem to be asking the obvious - why is the American Red Cross insisting on doing what they are doing? They picked this battle by changing the rules of the game...

Michael J

Amazing, but what is even more amazing - is that J&J is not suing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)organization, Who is the Owner of the Red Cross logo and has been using it since 1863, clearly only Identifying the “American Red Cross Chapter,
The ICRC was created in 1863, In Geneva Switzerland by five Swiss, in October of that year the first international conference ( 14 Countries ) participated, as held .In addition to adopting ten resolutions, which provided for the establishment of relief societies for wounded soldiers - the future Red Cross and, later, Red Crescent Societies - it also adopted the red cross on a white background as the uniform distinctive emblem and flag as an emblem of neutrality.
Clara Barton created and officialy became president of the American Red Cross on May 21 1881 and the Organization was quiet prominent.

In 1885 J&J was created in the US by the Johnson Brothers and incorporated in 1887. It sold ready to use dressings.
( I wonder if they thought that associating their name wiht he Red Cross would help them sell prodcuts... hummmm.. )
J & J in the US, adopted the Red Cross Emblem on it's products and trade marked it. Now they are Suing ?
When are they suing the swiss and the 100 or more country chapters in existance ... their stock might go up. I would love to see what you could get out of let us say.. Rwanda Red Cross chapter....
.....Amazing

Michael J

Amazing, but what is even more amazing - is that J&J is not suing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)organization, Who is the Owner of the Red Cross logo and has been using it since 1863, clearly only Identifying the “American Red Cross Chapter,
The ICRC was created in 1863, In Geneva Switzerland by five Swiss, in October of that year the first international conference ( 14 Countries ) participated, as held .In addition to adopting ten resolutions, which provided for the establishment of relief societies for wounded soldiers - the future Red Cross and, later, Red Crescent Societies - it also adopted the red cross on a white background as the uniform distinctive emblem and flag as an emblem of neutrality.
Clara Barton created and officialy became president of the American Red Cross on May 21 1881 and the Organization was quiet prominent.

In 1885 J&J was created in the US by the Johnson Brothers and incorporated in 1887. It sold ready to use dressings.
( I wonder if they thought that associating their name wiht he Red Cross would help them sell prodcuts... hummmm.. )
J & J in the US, adopted the Red Cross Emblem on it's products and trade marked it. Now they are Suing ?
When are they suing the swiss and the 100 or more country chapters in existance ... their stock might go up. I would love to see what you could get out of let us say.. Rwanda Red Cross chapter....
.....Amazing

oak

...new guy on staff...i see some up and comer newb, trying to make a name, who somehow convinced enough people that this was a good idea...if the red cross started selling mass amounts of baby powder, then they may be justified...this is just horrible pr...
OAK

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