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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Johnson and Johnson vs. The Red Cross
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08/09/2007 09:19:54 AM · #1
I heard about this controversy from a Canadian friend. Can you believe this?

//www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/08/08/redcross-suit.html

How sick is this?
08/09/2007 09:29:07 AM · #2
Um, wow. that is really disturbing. I can see J&J's case to a point but come on the red cross is no real competition and by the sounds of it they are just doing it to fund them selves so they can help more people. I will think twice about buying a J&J product...

-dave
08/09/2007 09:45:33 AM · #3
Me too. I am also forwarding the article to my legislators with comments.
It is particularly disturbing to me that this situation has not been documented by news sources here in the U.S.
08/09/2007 09:56:42 AM · #4
Here's an excerpt from the linked article in the OP:

"After more than a century of strong cooperation in the use of the Red Cross trademark. Ö we were very disappointed to find that the American Red Cross started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

I can see the point that J&J is making regarding trademark infringement. Business trademark and association is a pretty huge deal.

This does make me wonder if consumers would accidentally buy more J&J product mistaking it for Red Cross items or vice-versa where people purchase Red Cross items thinking it's a trusted brand like J&J.
08/09/2007 09:59:16 AM · #5
Originally posted by glad2badad:

Here's an excerpt from the linked article in the OP:

"After more than a century of strong cooperation in the use of the Red Cross trademark. Ö we were very disappointed to find that the American Red Cross started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

I can see the point that J&J is making regarding trademark infringement. Business trademark and association is a pretty huge deal.

This does make me wonder if consumers would accidentally buy more J&J product mistaking it for Red Cross items or vice-versa where people purchase Red Cross items thinking it's a trusted brand like J&J.


yea but in all fairness looks like the red cross started using it first they just didnt trademark it...

Quote: "Johnson & Johnson began using the red cross design as a trademark in 1887 ó six years after the creation of the American Red Cross but before it received its congressional charter in 1900."
08/09/2007 10:04:43 AM · #6
Originally posted by dknourek:

yea but in all fairness looks like the red cross started using it first they just didnt trademark it...

Quote: "Johnson & Johnson began using the red cross design as a trademark in 1887 ó six years after the creation of the American Red Cross but before it received its congressional charter in 1900."


Trademark protects branding. Red Cross is a service non-profit, not a brand. I think J&J has built a reputation of safe and sanitary products and has every right to protect that reputation by protecting the trademark that represents it.
08/09/2007 10:05:41 AM · #7
I think I remember seeing the Swiss Army knives (old ones) with just the "Red Cross" (usually red knife and white cross though) on them also. They must have gotten in trouble also. New ones have a sheild around them.
08/09/2007 10:30:06 AM · #8
Link from a different source on it ==> Legal fight over red cross symbol
08/09/2007 10:33:36 AM · #9
Remember - the Swiss flag is a white cross on red background - the Red Cross symbol is the opposite coloring - Red cross on white.

Originally posted by dacrazyrn:

I think I remember seeing the Swiss Army knives (old ones) with just the "Red Cross" (usually red knife and white cross though) on them also. They must have gotten in trouble also. New ones have a sheild around them.
08/09/2007 11:03:04 AM · #10
Originally posted by dknourek:

I will think twice about buying a J&J product...


considering they own everything from tylenol to splenda... it might be hard. although, i may be joining you!

does anyone think of a red cross when they think of J&J? it never occurred to me that that was their logo. i always think of the logo for the individual product (i.e., the tear shape on the baby shampoo). if they think i associate a red cross with their products, they are mistaken. i never have and i probably never will... so they may as well not demonize themselves and make a big donation to the Red Cross instead of suing them. IMHO, of course- just seems like a PR nightmare. (p.s.-i know, they've made lots of donations in the past)
08/09/2007 11:41:03 AM · #11
Trademark laws are trademark laws. Just because you are the Red Cross does not mean you can break them. If the Red Cross is selling items and using J&J's trademarked logo, that is just flat out wrong. Since they allowing subcontractors to sell items with the logo (I assure you someone is making a profit there) then it's even more wrong. The red cross can not give another company permission to use J&J's logo to sell items.

And before jumping on the J&J hate train, I'd be curious how much money J&J has donated to the red cross over the years in money and product. I'd guess a lot!
08/09/2007 11:47:59 AM · #12
Also, could there be some liability issues at stake. If the red cross is a J&J trademark, it could look like the RC is selling J&J products (which, I assume they are not). If something is wrong/faulty/contaminated for some reason, or even just not up to J&J standards, someone may try to hold them responsible because it has their logo on it.
08/09/2007 11:57:02 AM · #13
If you think the red cross is just making money to help out people in need. I think you need to look at the salary levels.
08/09/2007 12:13:54 PM · #14
Originally posted by coronamv:

If you think the red cross is just making money to help out people in need. I think you need to look at the salary levels.


So if you'd like to do full time charity work, you should also be required to be destitute and sleep on the streets ? That's a good way to get nothing done.
08/09/2007 12:14:46 PM · #15
Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by coronamv:

If you think the red cross is just making money to help out people in need. I think you need to look at the salary levels.


So if you'd like to do full time charity work, you should also be required to be destitute and sleep on the streets ? That's a good way to get nothing done.

but it's a great way to get your picture taken ;-)
08/09/2007 02:16:25 PM · #16
Whether they want to or not, J&J pretty much has to defend their trademark or have it fair game for anyone out there.

for example, mikerowesoft



Message edited by author 2007-08-09 14:22:12.
08/09/2007 03:12:58 PM · #17
Well I said nothing about being desitute, but I do not beleive that the level of waste in the red cross should be tolorated. Look at the Salaries of the employees across the board are higher than any in the same market. They tried to get fema money for refigerating units (5) to be exact claiming they were for katrina. Later declined since they could not show the need. Remember the blood you think is donated to people who need it...You have to buy that blood from them for a substancial markup. Yeah I know your going to say they have to test it. Still I'm not saying everyone who works for the red cross is guilty of scaming the government for funds, just most of them.
Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by coronamv:

If you think the red cross is just making money to help out people in need. I think you need to look at the salary levels.


So if you'd like to do full time charity work, you should also be required to be destitute and sleep on the streets ? That's a good way to get nothing done.
08/09/2007 04:08:39 PM · #18
umm, I think the situation is a little more complex than the press is claiming.

The Red Cross has the right to the trademark, and this right is protected both by international law and the Geneva convention.

However, J&J has the trademark for commercial use in the United States since before the American Red Cross was formed.

The two organisations have shared the trademark since, but now the American Red Cross has (possibly illegally) started selling commercial licenses to use the trademark.

I don't know any more details, but the article and responses over at Slashdot has some more info.

08/09/2007 04:31:10 PM · #19
Originally posted by dknourek:

... all fairness looks like the red cross started using it first they just didnt trademark it...

Quote: "Johnson & Johnson began using the red cross design as a trademark in 1887 ó six years after the creation of the American Red Cross but before it received its congressional charter in 1900."

This would raise the question of whether the original trademark granted to J&J was valid, given that it was a symbol previously-recognized as belonging to both a national and an iinternational organization, and in a ratified treaty. Perhaps J&J had better be careful they don't end up on the other side of the issue -- 130 years of royalties/penalties for infringing on the Red Cross might get expensive.

Message edited by author 2007-08-09 16:31:35.
08/09/2007 06:21:03 PM · #20
It is funny how people are so quick to jump on the 'Big Business is Bad' bandwagon. J&J and the Red Cross have an agreement, the Red Cross decided to sell the use of the logo to other BIG BUSINESSES to make more money. Why would you be upset with J&J for protecting their interests?

08/12/2007 02:32:17 AM · #21
The Red Cross symbol actually was originally used by Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross movement and the American Red Cross in 1881, prior to the creation of Johnson and Johnson in 1886. The symbol is actually "stolen" from the Swiss flag and is a reversal of the color scheme of that flag. Clara Barton designed the emblem out of respect for Switzerland's long stance on neutrality during war-- a belief she shared when she began the relief mission of the Red Cross during the Civil War. She allowed J&J to use the symbol. I could understand J&J's position if somehow the American Red Cross was creating an economic hardship or substancial loss of revenue, but this is simply not the case. Besides Congress recognized the ARC's right to use the symbol in the futherance of its mission BY STATUTE. I think this is extremely bad PR on the part of J&J even if they outspend the Red Cross into legal defeat.
08/12/2007 02:46:42 AM · #22
Originally posted by Skip:

Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by coronamv:

If you think the red cross is just making money to help out people in need. I think you need to look at the salary levels.


So if you'd like to do full time charity work, you should also be required to be destitute and sleep on the streets ? That's a good way to get nothing done.

but it's a great way to get your picture taken ;-)

ROFL!

Infringement is infringement. J&J has a right to protect their brand. Now I am off to make illegal copies of DVDs for the local orphanage.
08/20/2007 11:52:14 AM · #23
So I just got a company email saying the red cross is on site today selling first aid kits to raise money and it made me think of this discussion. Here is the first aid kit they are selling side by side with J&Jís:

' . substr('//img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Louddog/copyright.jpg', strrpos('//img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Louddog/copyright.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Copyright infringement? Nah, itís not like the Red Cross is trying to cut in on J&Jís market or anything. Itís just harmless for charity stuff! Itís not like they are selling the same item and making it look the same or anything.
08/20/2007 12:14:41 PM · #24
Isn't that a small Registered Trademark (@R) identifier next to the red cross on the J&J package? :)

Funny...when I see a "Red Cross" symbol I think of medicine/doctors first rather than any brand. Could be from too many years of watching "Mash". :D
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