A Medical Device Daily

Johnson & Johnson (J&J; New Brunswick, New Jersey) and the American Red Cross (ARC; Washington) are resolving litigation, that had the multi-billion-dollar company suing the nonprofit and four of its licensing partners regarding the use of the Red Cross emblem – a symbol used by both.

Both organizations have used the Red Cross emblem for more than 100 years, consistent with their respective missions, and thanks to the resolution, both will be able to continue to use it in the same way going forward.

The recent litigation claims by J&J and counterclaims by the ARC was a dispute about the respective rights of the two entities and was first reported last summer (Medical Device Daily, Aug. 10, 2007).

The parties have concluded that it is more productive to accept the rulings by Judge Jed Rakoff, set the remaining disputes aside, and direct attention instead to their respective missions.

Accordingly, the parties have agreed to dismiss all of their remaining claims and counterclaims.

Both J&J and the ARC have long-held separate and distinct rights to the use of the Red Cross design trademark, the company said.

J&J says it has been using the Red Cross design and "Red Cross" word trademarks since 1887, predating the formation of the ARC. The company has had exclusive rights to use the Red Cross trademark on commercial products within its longstanding product categories for more than 100 years, it said.

Since its creation, the ARC has at all times possessed only the rights to use the Red Cross trademark in connection with its non-profit relief services, according to the company.

The company entered into an agreement with the ARC in 1895. The agreement acknowledged J&J's exclusive right to the red cross as a "trademark for chemical, surgical and pharmaceutical goods of every description," according to the lawsuit.

The initial lawsuit said that the American Red Cross has the right under a Congressional charter awarded in 1900 to use the red cross design in connection with its efforts to provide voluntary relief. "Carrying out a commercial enterprise or business is not and never has been one of the purposes of the American Red Cross," the lawsuit said.

ARC acting president/CEO Mary Elcano said, "We are pleased that the court upheld our right to use our trusted emblem and this dispute is behind us so we can focus on delivering lifesaving Red Cross services to people in need. Johnson & Johnson has supported the Red Cross mission for many years, and we at the Red Cross are pleased we can count on the support of Johnson & Johnson to meet emergency needs as they arise at home and around the world. Now, with the dispute resolved, we look forward to many years of continued cooperation."

J&J CEO and chairman William Weldon said, "We join with the Red Cross in expressing our pleasure that this dispute is over. J&J brought the lawsuit very reluctantly only to protect what we believed were important trademark issues. The decision of the court has brought clarity to those issues, including its ruling that Johnson & Johnson has properly used its valued Red Cross trademark over the years, and we have no desire to continue our dispute through trial and appeal. We are pleased with this resolution and look forward to working together with the Red Cross in the years ahead."