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Censorship Medicine The Courts

Johnson & Johnson Loses Major Trademark Lawsuit 176

Posted by kdawson
from the pass-the-tylenol dept.
Dekortage writes "As previously discussed here, the health-products giant Johnson & Johnson sued the American Red Cross over use of the ubiquitous 'red cross' logo. J&J has now lost. The presiding judge said Johnson & Johnson's claim against the organization was doubtful because the manufacturer entered into a brand-sharing promotional agreement with the American Red Cross in 1986 — not to mention that the two organizations agreed to share the logo way back in 1895. Sounds like J&J may need to crack open some Tylenol and Band-Aids."
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Johnson & Johnson Loses Major Trademark Lawsuit

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  • Re:Brand recognition (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @03:29AM (#23534291)
    Their concern was that the Red Cross was reselling their tradmark. Dirty pool on the Red Cross. And it won't turn out bad for J&J PR wise; the Red Cross has a strong motivation to hide thier money-grubbing ways.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday May 25, 2008 @03:48AM (#23534367) Journal
    Seems to me they've been using the red cross for quite a while, too.

    -jcr
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:14AM (#23534627)

    Nobody sees the WWF as the assholes who bullied the WWE.
    Ok, but we are talking about the Red Cross--a group that people actually care about. This is the group that you go to when your house burns down and you need a place to sleep. Or the group that you turn to when your government is too inept to handle some disaster.

    The Red Cross doesn't have a perfect image, but bullying them is about as good for public opinion as bullying the Girl Scouts.

    If Johnson & Johnson would have won this lawsuit, Congress almost certainly would have unamimously passed a law giving the Red Cross the right to the red cross logo.
  • by I confirm I'm not a (720413) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:17AM (#23534639) Journal
    Kind of... the Red Cross (as a humanitarian symbol) has been in use since the 1860s. Johnson & Johnson started using the symbol in the 1880s, and trademarked it in 1905. Although the symbol is protected by international law US law made an exception for Johnson & Johnson as they had trademarked it before the US got round to passing a law to protect the humanitarian use of the symbol. I'm not hugely impressed with the ARC licensing the internationally recognised and protected humanitarian symbol to anyone but let's not kid ourselves that J&J are some sort of martyr here - back in the late 1880s they saw an opportunity to exploit a respected symbol before the law changed to prevent it. It's pretty cold of J&J to try this; not because they're legally wrong (which, from TFA, was found to be the case in court) but because morally it's chutzpah.
  • by arb phd slp (1144717) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:09AM (#23535221) Homepage Journal
    Have they done any research to assess how much mindshare that logo has? Because I don't think it is worth fighting for. I associate the cursive "Johnson & Johnson" logo with J&J far more than the red cross logo (which of course makes me think of the Red Cross).

    They could lose the red cross trademark from their products altogether and I don't think I'd notice.
  • Emperors (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mfh (56) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @09:11AM (#23535445) Journal
    Lawsuits typically start the same way wars do -- over someone's ego... and empire construction doesn't help matters. Ego usually blinds organizations long enough for ink to dry on any questionable document.

    The more mud that is slung, the harder it is to see who is really dirty!
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @11:36AM (#23536147)

    retaining religious symbols in aid organizations perpetuates the misconception that religions have something to do with altruism.
    So, you're saying that major religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, do not promote charity? Seriously, you need to do some minimal research, as it is a central theme throughout them.

    We're not talking about groups like Scientologists here, we're talking about groups whose symbols are people who gave up or eshewed lives of gluttony and lived to help those around them. Whether or not leaders of these groups today are 100% representations of this mission is moot; they're just people, not the religions themselves.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @12:01PM (#23536287) Journal

    <sarcasm>Don't know why. It's not like we obey any other parts of the Geneva Conventions these days (Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, et al). Why should this part be any different?</sarcasm>

  • by sconeu (64226) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @01:19PM (#23536735) Homepage Journal
    The Red Cross doesn't have a perfect image, but bullying them is about as good for public opinion as bullying the Girl Scouts.

    Yea, because nobody would go after the Girl Scouts [harvard.edu].

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