Trademark Law

J&J Is Cross Over Symbol License

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A dispute over rights to the red cross symbol has led to a lawsuit and dueling press statements.

Johnson & Johnson, the health-care products company, sued the American Red Cross yesterday, claiming the charity infringed its trademark by licensing the cross for commercial purposes. The suit seeks an injunction against use of the symbol on first-aid, safety-preparedness and related products, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Johnson & Johnson says it has used the symbol since 1887, before the Red Cross was chartered. The company says it entered an agreement with the Red Cross in 1895 that acknowledged J&J’s exclusive right to the symbol for chemical, surgical and pharmaceutical goods, the New York Times reports.

John Crisan, general counsel for J&J’s consumer products division, said the company had tried to resolve the dispute before filing suit in New York federal court.

Red Cross chief executive Mark Everson called the suit “bizarre” and “extreme.”

“I’m sort of staggered that they would take this approach,” he told the Times.

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