Saturday, August 11, 2007

Johnson & Johnson Jump The Shark

By Cernig

Via Raw Story, a tale of such mind-bogglingly venal corporate greed and stupidity as to make your jaw go thunk. Johnson & Johnson has sued the American Red Cross for using its trademark redcross on a white background emblem "for other than non-profit purposes".
J&J said that by marketing products such as baby mitts, nail clippers, combs, toothbrushes and humidifiers, the ARC was violating a long-standing agreement that J&J would use its trademark on commercial products while ARC would use it in connection with its non-profit relief services.

...The ARC said it was surprised by J&J's legal action since it has been "selling first aid kits commercially in the United States since 1903," the profits of which are "reinvested in its humanitarian programs and services."

"Until now, J&J has never challenged this activity," said ARC, adding that last year it received "only two million dollars in revenue from the sale of its products," while J&J "received 52.3 billion in annual revenue."

"For a multi-billion dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statute that was created to protect the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross -- simply so that J&J can make more money -- is obscene," Everson said.

In its lawsuit filed Wednesday in the US District Court, Southern District of New York, J&J demands that ARC stop using its emblem on items sold to the public and surrender its stock of such products for their destruction.

J&J also demands that ARC turn over "all Red Cross proceeds from the sale of these products with interest," and "pay punitive damages to J&J along with attorney fees related its legal action."

...The red cross on a white field emblem used by both entities was first used by J&J in 1887, while the ARC was formed in 1903. The ARC, however, said it began using its emblem in 1881 before it was chartered by Congress.

The US Congress in 1905 made it a crime for third parties other than the Red Cross to use a red cross symbol fraudulently, but allowed J&J to continue using the emblem for its products only.
The emblem itself, of course, is the Swiss flag - used because the International Red Cross movement was founded in that neutral nation in 1863 and one direct result of that founding was the first Geneva Convention conference.

That J&J would piss all over a noble tradition under the Red Cross emblem for a measly $2 million that would otherwise help fund more humanitarian aid is corporate moral decrepitude of the highest order. My wife, looking over my shoulder, has just announced her intention to stop buying J&J if they go ahead with this. I'm sure there's more than a few will agree with her.

Update As always, I'm greatful to Newshoggers readers for their editing job. BJ from Northman's Fury puts me right:
Quick nitpick: The emblem is the reverse of the Swiss flag.
Thanks, BJ.

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