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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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  • ...check if they have a clue about public relations and brand image. I mean, did they consider at all that people might start to see J&J as "the assholes who bullied the Red Cross?"
    • by Joebert (946227) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:41AM (#23534345) Homepage
      Probably. Be on the lookout for unusually large donations of medical supplies being donated to the Red Cross sometime in the future.
    • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:54AM (#23534391) Journal
      Sorry, I think they win on this one. You're one of a _very_ few people who pays attention to trademark lawsuits. There are, on the other hand, people who make purchasing decisions by logo.
      • by poetmatt (793785)
        I understand what you mean here, but I think that the amount of people who have been following significant legal issues has been slowly increasing....I think it wouldn't be enough to make a drop in an ocean to johnson and johnson though, unfortunately.
      • by jonadab (583620) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:44AM (#23534725) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, but how many people were previously aware that the Red Cross logo is also a trademark of Johnson & Johnson? Personally, I had no idea they'd ever used that mark. The things I most associate with them are a certain color of yellow and the phrase "no more tears". A red cross inscribed in a white square, on the other hand, is something I associate mainly with blood drives.

        Which might have something to do with the reason J&J lost. The Red Cross actually *uses* this logo extensively. J&J pretty much has a different logo or appearance for each and every product they sell. Which product do they use the red cross logo for? Whatever it is, I don't believe I've ever seen it, or even an advertisement for it.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by arb phd slp (1144717)
          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.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by davester666 (731373)
            Um, this would be precisely why J&J would like to use the trademark. Right now, it is linked with a large, non-profit (I would think), helpful to society organization, and there is a lot of goodwill associated with it.

            If J&J were able to start slapping that trademark on their products, it would probably get more people to buy their products because people would think the product was either produced by, in support of, or endorsed by the Red Cross.
        • by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @09:07AM (#23535675) Homepage
          Where do you live? I'm in the UK, and I've never seen the red cross on a Johnson and Johnson product here (perhaps the Red Cross *do* have the clearly-established trademark rights in this country), but I'm familiar with the "No More Tears" thing on their baby shampoo.

          It may be different in the US, where this case relates to.
        • by qzulla (600807)
          Cotton balls. http://pics.drugstore.com/prodimg/13373/200.jpg [drugstore.com]

          qz

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by geekoid (135745)
          I always think of M*A*S*H* when I see that logo.
        • by Pinky3 (22411)
          Yeah, but how many people were previously aware that the Red Cross logo is also a trademark of Johnson & Johnson? Personally, I had no idea they'd ever used that mark.

          My guess is that you are younger than 30, have never bought medical tape or gauze pads, and were never in the Boy Scouts.

          Take a look at http://www.jnjfirstaid.com/index.jsp [jnjfirstaid.com] and the product links on the left side navigation. I have been using J&J Red Cross First Aid products for over 50 years. If you were in the Boy Scouts and learned
    • Emperors (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mfh (56)
      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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:22AM (#23535495)
      Let me make an analogy. Suppose that you are a restaurant occupying and operating in a building called The Slashdot House. You are a for-profit business. Now, for a century or so, you have had an amicable relationship with a non-profit soup kitchen which also operates out of the same building and using the same kitchen. The two of you are not in competition, since you are a for-profit business and they are a non-profit.

      Now suppose you find out that the non-profit is suddenly selling meals, in violation of your previous peaceful agreement. Before, there was no chance that a reasonable person would get a meal at the soup kitchen and think that they were dealing with your restaurant. Now, the non-profit is telling people "Come to The Slashdot House and get nutritious healthy meals for affordable prices!" which is exactly what you've been advertising. When you protest that the agreement between you clearly held that they would not do commercial business and therefore not threaten your commercial business, they smirk and say "Guess again, the agreement only says we won't do commercial business for profit. Since we're not expecting to turn a profit, we can compete for your market all we want -- and if you take us to court, we'll smear you in the media as the nasty nasty profiteering people who tried to bully a saintly non-profit."

      That's what happened here. The Red Cross was the one that made the decision to disturb the existing customary arrangement. Under that agreement, the Red Cross was using the red cross symbol as a logo, but only Johnson & Johnson were using it as a trademark (literally "mark of trade", remember: the symbol which identifies who it is that is taking responsibility for the product or service.) Then the Red Cross decided "hey, it's perfectly fine for us to start putting this logo on commercial products that compete with Johnson & Johnson who are already using this symbol in the trademark space! Even though our partners are certainly for-profit businesses, we're non-profit!" And believe me, when they started this lawsuit, the Red Cross's justification in the press was not "the Congressional charter granted us shortly before the end of the 19th century permitted us to use this logo for commercial purposes" or "in 1986 Johnson & Johnson entered into a promotional agreement with the Red Cross in which coupons from J&J products could be redeemed for donations to the Red Cross". It was "Bwaaaaaaaaaaah, look at dat nasty, nasty big commercial cowpowation! Dey picking on us widdle, widdle Wed Cross! They big! Us widdle! Don't you agwee that regardless of whatever the actual facts of the case are, dey must be da big, mean buwwies?"
      • by Sique (173459) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @09:48AM (#23535913) Homepage
        As I understood, the situation is different. The Red Cross logo is owned by Red Cross, and J&J has a license to use it on their products which costs J&J 5 ct per item sold.

        And now Red Cross is licensing the logo to other companies with similar deals, thus ending J&J exclusivity, but not diluting any trademarks J&J was owning. If the license deal didn't had any wording about exclusivity, then I don't see J&J having a case, and obviously the judges didn't see any case either.
      • by kyz (225372) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @10:19AM (#23536059) Homepage
        The International Committee of the Red Cross, of which the American Red Cross is a member, has special worldwide exclusive rights to the Red Cross symbol via the First Geneva Convention (passed 1864).

        The Red Cross symbol can be used to indicate ICRC member organisation presence on battlefields, and it can be used as or in the organisational logo of any ICRC member organisation. The First Geneva Convention prohibits any other use of the Red Cross, worldwide.

        The USA ratified this in 1882, meaning they agreed to enforce this restriction. However, they did not pass any actual law to prohibit it until 1900. In 1887, the US government approved Johnson & Johnson's trademark application to use the Red Cross on medical products, which broke their commitment to the First Geneva Convention!

        The 1900 law prohibits what Johnson & Johnson did, but has a clause saying that any infringements prior to 1905 (i.e. Johnson & Johnson) will not be covered. They're still illegal internationally since 1864 and illegal in the USA since 1905.

        Johnson & Johnson want to argue that they have special privileges to do something which both very profitable for them and is illegal for anyone else, namely usurping the symbol of Red Cross and milking its iconic status for purely profit-making enterprise. There is no agreement to take all profits made by branding J&J stuff with the Red Cross and hand them over to the ICRC or ARC.

        I understand that J&J donated about $5 million last year to the Red Cross, but Johnson & Johnson made a profit last year of $38.27 billion. The Red Cross are not getting in their way of making a healthy profit. I don't have the figures on what percentage of that is directly attributable to selling on the back of the ICRC's global reputation, but it doesn't come with the ICRC's permission.

        The American Red Cross was founded to provide free medical and humanitarian aid. Johnson & Johnson was founded solely to make money. The American Red Cross may be idiots and selling themselves out, but they're not the ones on shaky legal ground here. It only takes one stroke of the pen to remove the last line of 18 U.S.C. Â 706:

        Whoever wears or displays the sign of the Red Cross or any insignia colored in imitation thereof for the fraudulent purpose of inducing the belief that he is a member of or an agent for the American National Red Cross; or

        Whoever, whether a corporation, association or person, other than the American National Red Cross and its duly authorized employees and agents and the sanitary and hospital authorities of the armed forces of the United States, uses the emblem of the Greek red cross on a white ground, or any sign or insignia made or colored in imitation thereof or the words "Red Cross" or "Geneva Cross" or any combination of these words

                Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

        This section shall not make unlawful the use of any such emblem, sign, insignia or words which was lawful on the date of enactment of this title.


        It bears pointing out that use of the logo was unlawful everywhere except the US on that date, and that the US is breaking its commitment to the First Geneva Convention, ratified prior to issuing the J&J trademark, by permitting said trademark.

        If I were a lawmaker, I'd look into righting 100-year-old wrongs.
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @11:01AM (#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 NereusRen (811533)

          Johnson & Johnson made a profit last year of $38.27 billion.
          According to their press release [jnj.com], 2007 net earnings were $10.2 billion. Source?
          • -kyz misread the financial statement, and quoted from the wrong year. Checking their financials, J&J had a gross profit of $38.2 billion in 2006, when they also posted a net profit of $14.6 billion, and income after tax of $11 billion.

            The poster got the numbers and year wrong, but the point essentially remains -- $5 million is a lot less than $11 billion. (I'm not saying that I disagree or agree with it, as I don't know what J&J's other charitable contributions may be, nor whether the $5 million i
        • You left out the the Red Cross symbol is also the inverse of the Swiss Federation Flag purposely done when the Swiss Red Cross was formed, from which was born the International Red Cross, and they had that symbol more than 20 years before J&J even became a company, it is pretty obvious the Red Cross insignia clearly belongs to the Red Cross and not J&J. Now Red Cross made a deal with J&J back in 1895, letting J&J use their symbol. I don't know the details of that deal were, so clearly this s
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Perhaps they should have sued these guys: Relevant Wiki page [wikipedia.org]
    • ...instead of helping the many truly needy, was sucked dry fending off mega-rich vampire leech parasites.

      Thanks J&J, we will remember that.

      You have truly gained Brand Recognition by this action.

  • Brand recognition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by concernedadmin (1054160) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:15AM (#23534259)
    When I think of a red cross, I immediately think of emergency relief, supplies, etc. I don't think of household products. What did Johnson & Johnson see in trying to seize (what I feel is) a pretty well established brand with a certain set of qualities (such as disaster aid)?
    • Re:Brand recognition (Score:5, Informative)

      by deniable (76198) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:23AM (#23534275)
      It's not just a brand. There are international treaties governing its use. These are pretty specific about when and where you can use it. This is why most first aid kits I see now have a green cross rather than a red cross. Trademarks are used in some countries to strengthen the protection.
      • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:30AM (#23534303) Journal
        Even worse, if J&J had won, every game would have to be re-released with re-branded medkits! /sarcasm
        • Re:Brand recognition (Score:5, Informative)

          by deniable (76198) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:34AM (#23534321)
          Actually, some of the Red Cross organizations are asking game makers to stop doing it anyway. Recoloring to green wouldn't be too hard to do.
          • That doesn't bother me in the slightest - being Red/Green colour blind. Even if the medpacks are green, I'll see them as red because that's what I've already associated medpacks with. But if you tell me that the medpacks in a certain game are green, I'll take a closer look and then I'll see that they're green and will only see them as green from that point on.
        • by deniable (76198)
          Well, if we're looking for funny mods:

          I'm waiting for them to go after all of the abuses in porn. Most porn nurses are covered in red crosses, or so I'm told.
    • by PakProtector (115173) <cevkiv AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:23AM (#23534277) Journal

      For some of us, particularly those of us who have been or are in the military, or the medical field, or first responders, the red cross means, in general, not a particular branding, nor the United States Red Cross nor the Red Cross International -- it means that in an emergency, when lives are on the line and blood and pain are at hand, that there is help. It's a beacon in the darkness that there is still hope.

      That's what this is about. J&J tried to take that away. The Red Cross is an internationally agreed upon and (near, if not completely) a universally recognised sign that shouts, "Medical Care! MEDICAL CARE HERE!" Ask any random hundred or thousand people off the street what they think when they see a Red Cross on a White Field. I seriously doubt that Johnson and Johnson will be near the top of the list.

      What J&J have done here that is so reprehensible is attempted to dilute that already prolific sign of medical care and hope, to commercialise what others already had a far better claim to. Shame on them, sirs. Shame and disgrace.

      They might as well attempt to sue the Catholic Church for being (one of the two) oldest branches of Christianity over trademarks over Santa Claus. It would be exactly as nonsensical.

      Signed,
      Irate Med Student.

      • What J&J have done here that is so reprehensible is attempted to dilute that already prolific sign of medical care and hope, to commercialise what others already had a far better claim to.

        Ah yes... the kneejerk "the $BIG_CORP must be the one at fault" reaction. Meanwhile, the $CHARITY who is seeking (against the agreement they made with $BIG_CORP) to commercialize the "already prolific sign of medical care and hope" goes scot free...
         
        Or, to put it in much simpler terms - you pretty much have the situation entirely reversed and then misunderstood. J&J did not try to take anything away from the Red Cross - they tried to prevent the Red Cross from using the trademark in question in a commercial fashion rather than a charity fashion.
         
        The bad guys in this situation, the guys crossing the line, the guys violating their agreements... is the Red Cross.
        • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:53AM (#23534767)

          they tried to prevent the Red Cross from using the trademark in question in a commercial fashion rather than a charity fashion

          IMHO J&J really shouldn't have expected exclusive commercial use of it either since it was never theirs to start with. I don't think the argument above is enough of an excuse to blame the Red Cross for the legal action by J&J.

      • by baboo_jackal (1021741) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @03:44AM (#23534537)

        For some of us, particularly those of us who have been or are in the military, or the medical field, or first responders, the red cross means, in general, not a particular branding, nor the United States Red Cross nor the Red Cross International -- it means that in an emergency, when lives are on the line and blood and pain are at hand, that there is help. It's a beacon in the darkness that there is still hope.

        Hey man, no matter the outcome of this retarded Corp-Fight, my FLAs are still going to have big fat red crosses on big fat white backgrounds on them, and the Soldiers who need medical care will always know where to come.

        Your argument that this retarded conflict between two Companies might somehow negatively affect American Soldiers and prevent them from obtaining needed medical care is absurd. Let those two fight it out. F your "sacred symbology" tirade. Nobody who's getting shot at, and shot, gives one shit about it.
      • by Mutatis Mutandis (921530) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:16AM (#23535047)

        Apparently you have not bothered to check up on the actual story. A link was provided.

        What angered J&J was the decision of the American Red Cross to license the symbol to other companies for use, in return for a small donation, on the packaging of toenail clippers and tooth brushes, among other things.

        The judge apparently feels that this is a legitimate fund raising activity, which may very well be a valid point of law. He also feels that the 19th century agreement between J&J and the ARC governing the use of the red cross symbol is overridden by the charter Congress gave to the ARC, which gives it full control over the use the red cross symbol. That too, may be a legitimate point.

        However, if the morals of "commercializing" the Red Cross are what you take issue with, rather than the legal framework, I don't see how J&J can be claimed to the be more at fault than the ARC itself.

        For the debate is not about the ARC asking J&J to stop the commercial use of the red cross, something which they have done for over a century. (That, I think, would have been a sensible option.) And certainly not about J&J asking the ARC to stop the non-commercial use of the red cross; that would be patently absurd. It's about the ARC expanding the commercial use of the symbol. Surely, if its commercial use is a bad idea, then the ARC's decision is hardly wise? Toenail clippers are rarely a matter of life and death.

        As for the sensitivity of J&J on the issue, I think their concern about trademark confusion is unrealistic but genuine. J&J's brand name is one of the most valuable on the market, and it is understandable that they are jealously protective of it. Whether this was a smart approach is something different.

      • They might as well attempt to sue the Catholic Church for being (one of the two) oldest branches of Christianity ...

        If by Catholic [wikipedia.org] Church, you're referring to (as is commonly done) the Roman Catholic Church, then that statement is both misleading and factually incorrect. In fact, another group [wikipedia.org] has claims to being the "true Catholic Church", long before anyone cared about Rome, or pointy hats were all the rage.

        Put another way, the Greek origin of the word "Catholic" isn't a curious oddity of history in the
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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 _KiTA_ (241027)

        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.

        Not exactly. J&J trademarked the Red Cross Symbol before the Red Cross could get it trademarked in the US but AFTER the Red Cross started using it. They agreed that J&J could keep the trademark and RC just wouldn't sell anything with the Red Cross logo.

        Flash forward to today, whereas for a way to make money, the Red Cross is certifying non-JJ medical kits as being "Red Cross Approved" and allowing the Red Cross logo to be used on these certification notices on packaging. JJ doesn't want their co

    • by jesterzog (189797) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:37AM (#23534331) Homepage Journal

      When I think of a red cross, I immediately think of emergency relief, supplies, etc. I don't think of household products. What did Johnson & Johnson see in trying to seize (what I feel is) a pretty well established brand with a certain set of qualities (such as disaster aid)?

      I'm presuming the court made the appropriate decision here, but it sounds as if the story's more complicated than a bunch of crazy lawyers filing a ridiculous lawsuit. The problem that Johnson & Johnson had was that the Red Cross had (apparently) started to commercially license its symbol to businesses that were probably in direct competition with J&J, and this would have been unforseen in the past when J&J probably saw and treated the Red Cross as a completely non-commercial organisation, with largely uncommercial products, and where any place it used the logo were at best for fundraising.

      If it suddenly starts licensing its logo, though, then other companies can start using it to promote their own commercial products in the same domain as Johnson & Johnson in a way that could potentially confuse customers. In other words, any business that wants to start leeching from Johnson & Johnson's pre-existing brand recognition and loyalty might be able to throw a comparably cheap donation towards the Red Cross as a licensing fee, without having to negotiate at all with J&J, and make their commercial packaging potentially confusing with Johnson & Johnson's. This could be a real problem for J&J in the case of competitors who want to get their products shelved right next to it in supermarkets, for instance. Apart from the licensing fee, the Red Cross isn't even benefiting anywhere near as much as J&J might be losing.

      I think the lawyers probably wanted to prevent the Red Cross from being able to give other businesses what could be a huge commercial advantage and steal its own good will, when under normal circumstances this would all be prevented by trademark law. Sure, J&J has probably benefited a lot from having a logo that looks like the Red Cross, but it sounds as if they've at least had it for as long as the Red Cross has.

      • I can't say that I completely agree with licensing the Red Cross for trivial household products.

        But nevertheless I oppose the position of J&J in this dispute. It was clearly Johnson & Johnson who was leeching off the Red Cross movement and to claim ownership of the Symbol is just wrong (even if it is their registered trademark)
        They just got lucky because they were the first company to do so, and have done so ever since.
        I suppose this is the best outcome of the dispute.

        Personally, I think any company
      • Yup, this like the Apple Corps Vs Apple Computer type case - one party does something that might break a long standing agreement, so they let the courts sort it out.
        Though In this case the red cross on white background has become so generic that neither party has a real claim to the trademark.
      • The problem that Johnson & Johnson had was that the Red Cross had (apparently) started to commercially license its symbol to businesses that were probably in direct competition with J&J, and this would have been unforseen in the past when J&J probably saw and treated the Red Cross as a completely non-commercial organisation

        And TFA points out that this isn't the first time the Red Cross has licensed its name and symbols for commercial products, in exchange for a percentage of revenue. They did it in 1986, and the licensee was - - - Johnson and Johnson.

    • Re:Brand recognition (Score:5, Informative)

      by slash.duncan (1103465) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:59AM (#23535003) Homepage
      > When I think of a red cross, I immediately
      > think of emergency relief, supplies, etc.

      That's what I thought of as a kid. Now, I know the history previous to that. Now, I think of the Crusades and the terrible things done in the name of Christianity during them. That's where the red cross on a white background originated.

      The Knights Templar (Temple Mount Knights, who took a vow of poverty (communal property, as the term meant at that time) and allegiance to the order, who originally protected the pilgrims during a period when most other knights were ignoring them because there wasn't profit in their protection, who were a time the most powerful Military Christian order after so many donated so much in turn, who set up the first European and Crusader banking system, had as their naval flag the original white skull and crossbones on a black background later associated with pirates, who traded with the Muslims and introduced gauze (from Gaza, the city), muslin (from Muslim), and candy (from al-kandiq) these were one of the orders that flew the red cros on a white background, the original symbol of the crusades.

      Similarly with the Knights Hospitaller, whose order founded and staffed the medical "hospitals" the pilgrims and Crusaders used. This is actually the origin of both the word "hospital" and the association of the red cross with medicine. Of course, while they were a welcome sight to many a wounded Christian Crusader or pilgrim, obviously, the Muslims had a rather different viewpoint! No WONDER they couldn't tolerate the Red Cross as a medical symbol! To them it meant the rape and pillage, the savagery of the Crusades! So they went with the Red Crescent.

      However, the Red Crescent is also a religious symbol, so today there's a third symbol coming into use, designed to be religiously neutral while still being unmistakable for anything else. It is often used in international contexts, particularly in the mid-east. This is the Red Crystal, a diamond shape.

      So, ideally, the Red Crystal will eventually come to have the positive associations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent today, without the sectarian and cultural negatives. It's also worth noting that Cross, Crescent, and Crystal, all start with C, so the ARC (and other "Red Cross and Red Crescent" organizations worldwide) could adopt the Crystal without even changing initials.

      Wikipedia is a place to start, anyway. There are links from there elsewhere, and I've included another informative link on the Knights Templar as well as a Google link, below.

      Wikipedia Red Cross/Crescent/Crystal (and some others)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Cross_(symbol) [wikipedia.org]

      Wikipedia Knights Templar
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar [wikipedia.org]

      Wikipedia Knights Hospitaller
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Hospitaller [wikipedia.org]

      Also see Wikipedia Teutonic Knights
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teutonic_Knights [wikipedia.org]

      A rather informative (altho obvious viewpoint taken) history of the Knights Templar (on first page of the below google)
      http://www.electricscotland.com/HISTORY/kt1.htm [electricscotland.com]

      Google on: "red cross" history crusades
      http://www.google.com/search?q=%22red+cross%22+history+crusades [google.com]
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:48AM (#23534367) Journal
    Seems to me they've been using the red cross for quite a while, too.

    -jcr
  • " Mr. Monseau (Johnson & Johnson spokesperson) added, "The company does remain committed to the longstanding mission of the Red Cross to provide relief services." "

    It's pretty cold for a company to claim it supports T.R.C.'s humanitarian cause, while suing them.
    • by deniable (76198) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:59AM (#23534407)
      Given the J&J and the ARC have had been using the symbol for about as long as each other and had an agreement to share it, it's pretty cold of the ARC to be selling it to J&J's competitors.
      • by I confirm I'm not a (720413) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:17AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      From the article [iht.com] linked in 'previously discussed [slashdot.org]' you can read (near the bottom):

      Johnson & Johnson noted that it had contributed $5 million (Eur 3.62 million) over the past three years to the Red Cross and will continue to make donations.

      Apparantly they put their $ where their mouth is, which deserves respect in itself. And regardless how small a part that may be on the annual budget of either J+J or the (American) Red Cross, more than a cool million and a half per year is no small contribution.

      • Apparantly they put their $ where their mouth is, which deserves respect in itself. And regardless how small a part that may be on the annual budget of either J+J or the (American) Red Cross, more than a cool million and a half per year is no small contribution.

        Actually that's a damn pitiful contribution of cash/supplies as that doesn't even cover the cost of 3 truck loads of bandages/gloves and other basic medical supplies each year. Now if they were talking about that much on an annual basis, then I'd be willing to accept the definition about it not being a small contribution. Simply put, One million Dollars a year is what J&J Spends in Petty Cash and they'd never even notice such a contribution.

    • by Phroggy (441)

      It's pretty cold for a company to claim it supports T.R.C.'s humanitarian cause, while suing them.
      They support the American Red Cross' humanitarian cause, just not their commercial licensing cause.
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Sunday May 25, 2008 @02:51AM (#23534381)

    Every once in a while, the douchebags who spend their lives making the rest of us miserable get a well-deserved kick in the crotch. This is one of those times.

    The only other occasion I can think of off the top of my head where something like this happened is when the World Wrestling Federation tried to lawyer the (much older) World Wildlife Fund out of its right to use "WWF". What is it they call the giant men who grope each other these days? I can't recall, but it certainly doesn't have an "F" at the end of it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      HA! revisionist history!

      the World Wildlife Federation sued the World Wrestling Federation not the other way around, This however, is shockingly on topic.

      The WWF (as in wrestling) was actually allowed to use the mark for certain uses, they got in trouble when they attached it to merchandise (commercial exploitation) Heres a link to the contract between the two WWF's http://contracts.corporate.findlaw.com/agreements/wwf/worldwildlife.1997.01.20.html [findlaw.com] WARNING: actual contract text, lots of legalese

      This is actua
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The only other occasion I can think of off the top of my head where something like this happened is when the World Wrestling Federation tried to lawyer the (much older) World Wildlife Fund out of its right to use "WWF". What is it they call the giant men who grope each other these days? I can't recall, but it certainly doesn't have an "F" at the end of it.

      You have the details of this pretty turned around.

      The World Wildlife Fund sat around, saying nothing for years and years as the wrestling organization was prospering. Then, when the wrestling organization was running into it's first financial hurdles, they pounced and dragged them into court in Europe-- knowing such BS wouldn't work in US courts at the time.

      Not wanting to bother with another legal battle, the wrestling organization simply changed their name and carried on.

      It wasn't a good thing in my opini

    • by Khaed (544779) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @04:39AM (#23534705)
      The only other occasion I can think of off the top of my head where something like this happened is when the World Wrestling Federation tried to lawyer the (much older) World Wildlife Fund out of its right to use "WWF". What is it they call the giant men who grope each other these days? I can't recall, but it certainly doesn't have an "F" at the end of it.

      Um, no, and you're really, really off base here.

      They had an agreement that allowed the wrestling-WWF to use the "WWF" so long as they didn't step on the wildlife-WWF's toes in any way. Then after a while the wrestling-WWF started doing stuff that the wildlife-WWF didn't like as they got more "racy" and, well, basically turned into "let's see how far we can go!" type stuff (including, and I'm not kidding, an 80 year old former female wrestler giving birth to an adult human hand). The wildlife-WWF didn't want to be associated with that sort of junk(understandable at this point), and sued to have them stop using "WWF". At no point did the wrestling-WWF initiate any sort of lawyering against the wildlife-WWF. Now they call themselves "World Wrestling Entertainment." I mean, hell -- would YOU want to be associated with them?

      The "WWE" has enough facts that make them look like a bunch of creeps that there's no need to spread falsehoods (even if it's not intentional) about them. It's basically Jackass in tights without the funny. I mean, really -- adult human hand birthing? And that's just ONE of the absurd things I can think of off the top of my head... and those are limited to just the few horrifically stupid and atrocious things I know of that they did. Fortunately, the stupid epidemic is wearing off and their ratings have been in decline. Unfortunately, their viewership seems to be watching American Idol instead...
    • Ralph Lauren actually sued the US Polo Association. In a victory for common sense, Ralph Lauren lost.
    • by hyades1 (1149581)

      I'll reply to my own comment and so, hopefully, cover all the replies: You guys are right, it was the Nature Folks who initiated the lawsuit.

      My point, though, still applies. Weiner Watchers Entertainment, or whatever the hell they're called now, tried to push the Panda Huggers aside by expanding their use of the initials to a point where confusion could occur, thus violating the "peaceful coexistence" agreement they'd worked out.

      Bottom line: I think we can all agree that it's a nice thing when some

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      The only other occasion I can think of off the top of my head where something like this happened is when the World Wrestling Federation tried to lawyer the (much older) World Wildlife Fund out of its right to use "WWF". What is it they call the giant men who grope each other these days? I can't recall, but it certainly doesn't have an "F" at the end of it.

      I dunno, I always thought that when two large men were having fun groping each other, they usually intended having an "F" at the end of it...

      Sorry. :O

  • I'm glad this one got thrown out. How these companies keep getting away with trying to trademark common words or symbols is beyond me. And this one wasn't even as bad as the crap that Monster Cables keeps trying to pull. I mean, seriously, who would ever think that Monster Cable had anything to do with Fenway Park's Green Monster, the 1985 Chicago Bears, or Monster Energy Drink? Did they invent the word Monster? Should they sue the tabloids for calling child molesters monsters? I mean, hell, even Triple H
  • IANALB it seems obvious that a red cross is too generic a mark for trademark purposes. This is an old symbol [seiyaku.com] and is a poor choice for use as a trademark for commercial purposes, anyway. Apparently, it took an act of congress [cornell.edu]to make this "red cross" a mark protected under the law.

    Now as a consumer of band-aids I have a confession to make: I think I've always subliminally associated the product with the Red Cross. So from my viewpoint, it could be argued that it is J&J that has been infringing o

  • by MBC1977 (978793) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @03:51AM (#23534557) Journal
    Maybe this will sound jacked up, but I was hoping that J&J would win this case. Considering that both companies have been around for near equal amounts of time (one commercial and one non-commercial) for the Red Cross to decide they now want to licence their trademark like a commercial entity, validates J&J's point of view. J&J wasn't asking for the Red Cross to not use the "red cross", they just wanted them not to be able to licence it out (since it would reduce the value of their trademark), and in that case J&J is right.

    Perhaps the ARC should have considered this application when negotiating in 1895 or so... or at the least recompense J&J for the dilution of their brand.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:49AM (#23534969) Journal
    ...and this is what J&J was contesting. J&J was more than happy to let the symbol be used for NON-PROFIT purposes, but the ARC has been using it to make money off of it, and PROHIBITING its use by other organizations!

    I know it's easy to flame the big corporation (and I hate big corps more than the average slashdotter, as I've been working in such for many years before I redeemed my freedom), but in this particular case it's the ARC that's abusing a symbol that should be free of commercial ties. J&J let the ARC use it, but when the ARC started "subletting" it to make money, J&J had a problem with that.

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