A federal judge ruled against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in a lawsuit filed by the drugmaker to halt the American Red Cross (ARC) from using the red cross emblem on first aid products sold to the public.
Judge Jed Rakoff of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge ruled that the Red Cross's activities did not violate a criminal prohibition, the Red Cross's congressional charter or the Geneva Convention, as J&J had claimed.
“For over a century … [the Red Cross] has entered into a number of arrangements to use the Red Cross emblem and words in an ostensibly commercial context – including, of particular relevance here, entering into license agreements that utilize the logo,” Rakoff said.
Last August J&J filed a lawsuit demanding that the nonprofit relief services group to stop using the symbol on products it sells the public. J&J said it was forced to file the lawsuit after it found that the American Red Cross started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes on various types of products being sold in retail and commercial outlets. Both J&J and the American Red Cross have long-held separate and distinct rights to the use of the red cross design trademark.
While there remain some unresolved claims in the case, the Red Cross declared victory on Thursday.
“We have been vindicated by the court on the major issues,” said Red Cross acting chief executive, Mary Elcano. “We want them to get rid of this case. It's been meritless from the very beginning.”
J&J spokesman Marc Monseau told the New York Times, “We are disappointed that the court rejected our claims involving ARC's commercial uses of the emblem. We are reviewing the decision and look forward to continuing this process to resolve our legal dispute with the American Red Cross.”
Monseau added, “The company does remain committed to the longstanding mission of the Red Cross to provide relief services.”