Johnson & Johnson Sues Red Cross Over Symbol
The dispute over rights to the symbol erupted to the surface yesterday in federal court in Manhattan, where J.& J. sued the American Red Cross.
Clearly outraged, the president of the American Red Cross, Mark W. Everson, unleashed his vitriol last night on the company, which makes Band-Aids and Tylenol.
In a news release, Mr. Everson said the company’s actions were “obscene” and “simply so that J.& J. can make more money.”
[...] The two had shared the symbol amicably for more than 100 years — Johnson & Johnson on its commercial products and the American Red Cross as a symbol of its relief efforts on foreign battlefields and in disasters like floods and tornadoes.
From time to time, the American Red Cross sold products bearing the symbol as fund-raising efforts. Jeffrey J. Leebaw, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, said the company had no objection to that.
But in 2004, the American Red Cross began licensing the symbol to commercial partners selling products at retail establishments. According to the lawsuit, those products include humidifiers, medical examination gloves, nail clippers, combs and toothbrushes.
“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.”
Mr. Leebaw added that the company had contributed more than $5 million to the American Red Cross in the last three years.