Johnson & Johnson sues Red Cross

AmbitiousLemon

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Nov 28, 2001
3,413
0
down in Fraggle Rock
BBC Article

Medical firm Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is suing the American Red Cross, alleging the charity has misused the famous red cross symbol for commercial purposes.
The charity described the lawsuit as "obscene".

It said many of the products at issue were health and safety kits and that profits from their sale had been used to support disaster-relief campaigns.
The lawsuit asks for sales of disputed products - also including medical gloves, nail clippers, combs and toothbrushes - to be stopped and unsold items to be handed over to J&J.

The firm is also seeking damages equivalent to the value of such goods sold in supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Target.
The red cross symbol was adopted by the forerunners to the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863.
American Red Cross was founded in 1881 but did not receive a charter from the US Congress until 1900.
J&J... first used the symbol as a trademark in 1887, the same year it was incorporated as a business.
"Our outside lawyers have looked at this and think we are on sound ground," said Mark Everson, the charity's chief executive.

um, ick.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,920
166
What an appalling publicity blunder... what can they be thinking? Surely the potential gains aren't worth the legal fees and the probable marketing blowback? Bizarre.
 

Pani

macrumors member
Jul 30, 2007
72
0
Chicago
Ultimate Hypocrisy

Johnson and Johnson often hides behind the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation to publicize health issues - for its own benefit. For instance, the RWJ foundation funds many of the obesity scare studies. (Many not worth the paper they are printed on.) What they don't tell you is that Johnson and Johnson benefits from the sale of weight loss products. It has huge influence on the media, sometimes even funding the MacNeil Leher Newshour. That Johnson and Johnson would then turn around and accuse the Red Cross of exploiting social causes! Ha!!!!! It takes one to know one!!!! I have been wanting to call for a boycott of J & J in my own activist community for awhile. Just one more reason to do so.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,657
7,873
CT
I want to know why it took so long to sue, its only been what 100 years? I never even new that J&J has a red cross in there logo.
 

AmbitiousLemon

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Nov 28, 2001
3,413
0
down in Fraggle Rock
I want to know why it took so long to sue, its only been what 100 years? I never even new that J&J has a red cross in there logo.
well the part I left out (so I could get people more riled up) is that J&J claims that:
a deal with the charity's founder in 1895 gave it the "exclusive use" of the symbol as a trademark for drug, chemical and surgical products.
 

Gymnut

macrumors 68000
Apr 18, 2003
1,848
3
Talk about mud in the face when you go after the American Red Cross.
 

Pani

macrumors member
Jul 30, 2007
72
0
Chicago
Lots to Boycott

Including Aveno, Tylenol, Carefree, Stay Free, Band Aid, Rembrant Oral Care. They recently bought Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, and already owned a whole host of other pharmaceuticals:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnson_&_Johnson

What is really sad is that with weather patterns changing due to global warming, as well as declining infrastructure, and many other problems, the Red Cross is going to need every penny it can get! They are predicting a more active hurrican season too. The Red Cross needs the money more than J&J. Sad to say, but no one is looking out for the public good anymore. Nothing but greed at the helm, steering us further and further into chaos.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,657
7,873
CT
Actually the hurricane season has just been cut in estimates this year.

What this sounds like is J&J needs to make some headlines to get noticed again and this is a great way to do that.
 

Stampyhead

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2004
2,294
30
London, UK
I, too, am appalled at this, but in order to keep things fair and unbiased here is the statement J&J made about the issue on their website.
Johnson & Johnson website said:
For the past several months, Johnson & Johnson has attempted to resolve this issue through cooperation and discussion with the ARC, and recently offered mediation, to no avail. The Company was left with no choice but to seek protection of our trademark rights through the courts.
 

ham_man

macrumors 68020
Jan 21, 2005
2,265
0
From a legal standpoint, it seems like they are on sound ground. From a logical standpoint, I fail to see what they can get from suing the Red Cross (aside from negligible financial benefits for a company that large). Going after charities just isn't good PR...
 

theBB

macrumors 68020
Jan 3, 2006
2,453
3
Well, I've heard quite nasty stuff about American Red Cross as well, so I don't know, maybe they deserve each other.
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,979
3
Gone but not forgotten.
Well, I've heard quite nasty stuff about American Red Cross as well, so I don't know, maybe they deserve each other.
The Red Cross may seem to be a charity but their administrators make plenty of money and they've had nice cars, etc. It's a business that pretends to be a charity and uses volunteers so that the administrators can waste money on themselves.

Weren't they also the people who made the big appeal for funds for the victims of September 11, 2001 and then, they diverted funds to other projects?

Haven't they also been caught selling blood?
 

SilentPanda

Moderator emeritus
Oct 8, 2002
9,993
28
The Bamboo Forest
From what I've read, Johnson & Johnson are suing because the Red Cross is now selling medical products using the "red cross" symbol. This conflicts with Johnson & Johnson's usage of the symbol in the same field, leading to potential confusion. My understanding was that the agreement back in the late 1800's gave Johnson and Johnson exclusive use of the symbol in the retail side of medicine whereas the Red Cross was allowed to use it for non-profit. It has only been recently that the Red Cross has tried to start marketing their own items.

I'm quite certain the lawyers at J&J weren't thinking, "Hey let's sue a charity! Nobody will care!". The problem is that J&J are legally obligated to do this otherwise other companies can come in and start using the same branding on medical products. It's one of those things where they can let it go and maintain face by not suing a charity, but then "Bob's medical supplies from the 8th world country" can come in and use similar branding causing confusion in the marketplace. It sounds like they initially first tried to remind the American Red Cross of the law and the American Red Cross snubbed them.

If I have my facts straightish it seems like J&J was actually decent about it until they were left with no other alternative. Then they just had to do what they had to do. If it wasn't the fact that the American Red Cross is a charity this probably wouldn't even be a story.
 

Pani

macrumors member
Jul 30, 2007
72
0
Chicago
"The problem is that J&J are legally obligated to do this otherwise other companies can come in and start using the same branding on medical products."

I don't see how this is the case. The Red Cross does have rights to use it for non profit purposes. Since they are using the profits of the kits for humanitarian projects, I think they have a strong argument they have the right to use it. I don't see how that opens the door for say Proctor and Gamble to start using it to sell its commercial products.

p.s www.thedailygreen.com/2007/08/09/experts-upgrade-hurricane-forecast/5005/

Here is the link where I got the info about the hurricane season. From what I understand, they downgraded the number of storms from what they predicted in May, but they are still predicting a season of above average intensity. Not to say this account is right, only that everything in the media needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
 

mac-er

macrumors 65816
Apr 9, 2003
1,454
0
Sue them blind.

Then when the Red Cross no longer has enough cashflow to function, it closes its doors on the impoverished forever.

View attachment 82038
Since when does the Red Cross use its money to fund the impoverished? After every single disaster, it comes out that they wasted funds and diverted funds to line their own pockets. The Red Cross isn't exactly clean here.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,920
166
The Red Cross may seem to be a charity but their administrators make plenty of money and they've had nice cars, etc. It's a business that pretends to be a charity and uses volunteers so that the administrators can waste money on themselves.

I work for a large charity. They pay my salary... that's how the charity sector works, that's how they're effective; not from the goodwill of volunteers but by employing skilled people.

And the British Red Cross is a registered charity.
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,979
3
Gone but not forgotten.
I work for a large charity. They pay my salary... that's how the charity sector works, that's how they're effective; not from the goodwill of volunteers but by employing skilled people.

And the British Red Cross is a registered charity.
Does the majority of the money go to help people who are in need or does it go to pay people? A charity that helps itself isn't much of a charity.

Red Cross here seem to take care of their administrators first and local volunteers are dispatched to take care of the needy.

It's not that this is so unusual in the U.S. corporate world. We pay big bucks for people who really don't know or do anything. Should it be part of the charity world, also?
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,920
166
Does the majority of the money go to help people who are in need or does it go to pay people? A charity that helps itself isn't much of a charity.
We're not that kind of charity. We support the infrastructure of the charity sector, a sector worth billions. It's a false and naive idea that charities are staffed by volunteers... you don't get skilled people by paying nothing. Our chief executive is in charge of a turnover of millions of pounds and is paid what a CEO would be paid for the same sort of organisation in the private sector.

We have a marketing team, a research and policy team, a large press office, a large support team for the building, HR and infrastructure etc. All these people need to managed, organised and paid.

Anyway, I'm not going to derail this thread any further, suffice it to say that many charities are big business. They have to be to survive.

Have a look here at what some of the roles that large charities need. Jobs column left-hand side of page.
 

nbs2

macrumors 68030
Mar 31, 2004
2,713
485
A geographical oddity
BV, I can agree that the charity sector does need to spend money in order to attract the best of the best, and I can accept that. The problem is that the ARC has developed a reputation for having high operating costs. While they have done a lot to improve (they are at about 8.5%), their reputation and history bothers a lot of people. The fallout from September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina have disillusioned a lot of people. Asking people to donate blood (that will get tossed) when your banks are full is not going to win friends, and funds not getting to those who need it isn't the best way to influence people.

Having worked in the n-p sector, I can appreciate how hard it is to attract the right people. The people work corporate hours for government pay. The General Counsel for the org where I worked had previously worked for the ARC and I don't think she ever had a single positive thing to say about them. With the number of fires and problems that we were putting out where we were, to think the ARC could treat its people worse was astonishing.