In one of the lamer PR moves in recent memory, Johnson & Johnson has decided to sue the American Red Cross for unauthorized use of the famous red cross symbol. J&J has asked to have “all licensed products with the red-cross emblem destroyed and to permanently enjoin all sales of products bearing the emblem on first-aid, safety-preparedness and related products.” According to PeterNRX:

J&J claims the company has been using the red cross since 1887, before the chartering of the Red Cross. J&J trademarked the design consisting of two intersecting red lines of equal length at least “as early as 1906,” according to the suit. J&J also claims that the Red Cross only has the right to use the trademark “in connection with nonprofit relief services.”

Johnson and Johnson might as well have sued the church. We have to agree with Jack Friday on this one. Obviously, lawyers were involved. Here’s how one editorial writer sums things up:

Even though the Red Cross has made first-aid and emergency kits available for more than a century, it only recently started selling them in big-box stores like Target and Wal-Mart. The decision to make them available to more people came after the terrorist attacks and natural disasters of the past few years.

The Red Cross made about $2 million from those sales, which it said it reinvested in its emergency relief programs. J&J CEO Bill Weldon’s salary alone was almost that much last year…

Trademark infringement lawsuits should be reserved for legitimate corporate competitors. If 3M started to put a red cross on its bandages, that would be something worthy of the legal team. Penalizing the Red Cross for wanting to cast a wider net to help more people in times of crisis is petty and reprehensible.

 

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