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Old 12th August 2007, 07:40 AM
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Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07222/808445-28.stm

Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Friday, August 10, 2007
By Cristina Rouvalis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On the surface, it would seem to be a case of big bad corporate America picking a fight over an icon of American life.

At least, that is the image problem health products giant Johnson & Johnson confronts as it sues the American Red Cross, demanding that the charitable relief organization stop putting the red cross on products it sells to the public.

What would Clara Barton think? And more importantly, what will loyal buyers of Johnson & Johnson's Band-Aids and first aid cream think?

"It's something. It comes out of left field," said Audrey Guskey, a professor of marketing at Duquesne University. "I think it would give them a temporary black eye."

Dr. Guskey said she was floored by the battle of these two squeaky-clean entities that is playing out in federal court in Manhattan, ending 100 years of sharing the icon amicably. Johnson & Johnson filed the suit Wednesday.

Johnson & Johnson executives are upset that the American Red Cross began licensing the symbol to commercial partners selling wound care products in stores. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based company said some of those products -- a first aid kit, doctor examination clothes and a hand sanitizer -- are direct competitors of its items.

The president of the American Red Cross, Mark W. Everson, called the lawsuit "obscene" and said it was "simply so that J&J can make more money."

And it is a public relations nightmare.

"It looks bad," said David Radack, a trademark attorney at the Downtown law firm Eckert Seamans. "It is like suing motherhood or apple pie."

But he said it was a last resort and it is hypocritical for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit relief agency to accuse Johnson & Johnson of being greedy when the Red Cross is making money off of the company's registered trademark.

"The American Red Cross is not giving away the licenses for free. They may say, 'We are using the money to give to orphans and children.' The Red Cross can also rob a bank and give it to orphans and children, but that is illegal," he said.

Jack Trout, a Greenwich, Conn.-based marketing consultant, said he thinks the American Red Cross is "out of bounds. I think it's greed on the part of Red Cross making a few extra bucks. They are giving away something they are sharing,'' he said, referring to the emblem.

But he doubts the public will understand the nuances of the agreement between the company and the nonprofit over the use of the symbol.

"I think Johnson & Johnson will take a big hit. Here you are, beating up on the Red Cross.''

Johnson & Johnson has been plastering the red cross on its first aid products since 1887 and registered the trademark in 1906, Mr. Radack said. He said it let the American Red Cross, which was chartered in 1900, use the symbol for noncommercial reasons.

"If you do not police your trademark, you can lose it. You can not just let other people use your trademark. If you do, your trademark loses it strength, and you can lose it."

But fighting over an international symbol of Americana and benevolence is dicey.

Dr. Guskey said it is a departure for a consumer goods company that has a trusted image, especially after it handled the 1982 tampering of Tylenol in such a forthright manner -- a case that is still held up as the gold standard of crisis communications.

"If you asked the average American consumer, which company do you trust and respect the most, Johnson & Johnson would pop up," Dr. Guskey said. "This is so counter to their culture."
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Old 12th August 2007, 08:22 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

The Red Cross was not set up in America.

The Emblem is a reversal of Swiss Flag. It was set up in Geneva in 1863 as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

It is just another example of Americans establishing TMs on things they really have no rights over in the first place. You see Cybersquatting can trace its roots back a very long way!

The J&J TM should be quashed and they should the Red Cross should be awarded more than a century of back Royalties. Don't forget under US law, it is about proof of prior usage and whether the term is Generic or not. By the time J&J TM'ed this the Red Cross would have been famous World Wide. Even if there was no official organisation in the US, many US citizens would have already contributed generously.
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Old 12th August 2007, 08:38 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

You should just take the funny aspect of it. :p
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Old 12th August 2007, 08:41 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Well it is not funny at all really.

What did the Crusaders wear on their Chest in the 12th Century?
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Old 12th August 2007, 08:50 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

The American Red Cross is a greedy non-profit. Right after 9 11 they ran a massive ad campaign everywhere so people would donate blood — except no blood was needed — as an excuse to solicit more donations to their cause. And after they collected over $500 million in donations in the name of the victims of 9 11, they balked at paying the victims!

If they are going into the business of licensing their symbol to commercial products, they are fair game.

Last edited by blastfromthepast; 12th August 2007 at 09:07 AM..
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Old 12th August 2007, 09:00 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Don't necessarily buy this.

The Red Cross is about Emergency Relief. Compensation for loss of loved ones is frankly outside their normal remit.

It does not seem that the extra donations were specifically given to 911 cause although clearly that seems to have stimulated much of the giving. This seems to underline American confidence in trusting the Red Cross to do the right thing.

As for Blood, well that is always needed. Most western countries blood banks run with stocks way below optimum levels. Besides the demand levels were not known. Everyone was expecting more attacks. Casualty levels were not known and could not reasonably have been predicted.
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Old 12th August 2007, 09:03 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubber Duck
It does not seem that the extra donations were specifically given to 911 cause although clearly that seems to have stimulated much of the giving. This seems to underline American confidence in trusting the Red Cross to do the right thing.
Actually they were. They had a special fund for this.

Quote:
"What's at issue here is that a special fund was established for these families. It was specially funded for this event, September 11," said Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana.

"And it is being closed now because we are told enough money's been raised in it, but we're also being told, by the way, we're going to give two-thirds of it away to other Red Cross needs."
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Old 12th August 2007, 09:10 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Quote:
Originally Posted by blastfromthepast
Actually they were. They had a special fund for this.

"What's at issue here is that a special fund was established for these families. It was specially funded for this event, September 11," said Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana.

"And it is being closed now because we are told enough money's been raised in it, but we're also being told, by the way, we're going to give two-thirds of it away to other Red Cross needs."
Well if was given for a specific purpose, I guess it should legally be used for that purpose, although there will no doubt have been small print. Doesn't necessarily make it morally right. Those giving would not have had detailed information on the level of needs at the time of giving.

What concerns me most about large charities is the level of remuneration of their senior officers and the expense claims. Charities should not be treated as commercial career opportunities in my opinion. Yes, they are "Not For Profit", but many individuals profit hugely from them!
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Old 12th August 2007, 09:19 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Quote:
The company entered into an agreement with the American Red Cross in 1895. The agreement acknowledged Johnson & Johnson's exclusive right to the red cross as a "trademark for chemical, surgical and pharmaceutical goods of every description," according to the lawsuit.

“What we’re talking about here is their deviation from a longstanding partnership and collaboration around the use of this trademark and their push to commercialize this trademark in the for-profit arena,” Mr. Leebaw said. “We deeply regret that it has become necessary to file this complaint. The company has the highest regard for the American Red Cross and its mission.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/bu...0A&oref=slogin

What more, the Canadian Red Cross has been spending time suing people for use of a red cross themselves!

Quote:
The Canadian Red Cross, having eliminated all pain and suffering in Canada, has set its sights on video games that use red crosses to denote in-game health-packs. They've sent lawyer-letters to game-makers telling them that marking health-packs with red crosses is illegal and will damage the Canadian Red Cross.

Why is the Red Cross wasting the charitable dollars we donate to it shaking down video-games on the basis of some trademark dilution bogeyman? Is there any question that the use of red crosses to denote health-packs in games will bring even the most minute quantum of harm to the Red Cross?
http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/09...d_cross_w.html
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Old 12th August 2007, 09:24 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Quote:
The company entered into an agreement with the American Red Cross in 1895. The agreement acknowledged Johnson & Johnson's exclusive right to the red cross as a "trademark for chemical, surgical and pharmaceutical goods of every description," according to the lawsuit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by touchring

Johnson & Johnson has been plastering the red cross on its first aid products since 1887 and registered the trademark in 1906, Mr. Radack said. He said it let the American Red Cross, which was chartered in 1900, use the symbol for noncommercial reasons.
Somebody is telling lies!
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Old 12th August 2007, 09:32 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products



Red Crystal

The third protocol emblem, also known as the Red Crystal.

Because of the controversy over Israel's national society Magen David Adom and a number of other disputes, the introduction of an additional neutral protection symbol had been under discussion for a number of years, with the Red Crystal (previously referred to as the Red Lozenge or Red Diamond) being the most popular proposal. Other attempts have included Sri Lanka (1957) and India (1977) who tried to establish a Red Swastika and also efforts by the national societies of Kazakhstan and Eritrea to use a unique combination of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, similar to the combination of both symbols used by the national society of the Soviet Union until its demise.

On 14 January 2007, the third additional protocol entered into force.
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Old 12th August 2007, 09:47 AM
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Re: Something funny - Red Cross sued for use of red cross on products

Well trying to stick to the point here a little, I would have to say that J&J rather than protecting their own commercial interests here could be seeking their ruination. This has got to be the biggest PR disaster in the history of the World!

You can see the skits now with a Red Swastika and the Foot Note: Another Johnson and Johnson Company!
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Last edited by Rubber Duck; 12th August 2007 at 09:55 AM..
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