August 10th, 2007

And the Coverage Continues…

The news this week about the decision to sue the American Red Cross for trademark infringement has stirred up loads of coverage in the MSM as well as in the Blogosphere. Much of the coverage touched on the impact taking on a charity will have on the Johnson & Johnson reputation.

John Mack at PharmaBlogosphere had a broad wrap-up of the coverage yesterday, listing the many different perspectives provided, but I thought I would take a few moments to call attention to some of the posts that caught my eye. (John — as you can see, we have now boarded the train.)

Like many other bloggers and observers, Ed Silverman at Pharmalot and Peter Rost (BTW, congratulations Peter on your new role at BrandWeek NrX) at BrandWeek NrX, both questioned whether the suit was a wise move given the potential damage to Johnson & Johnson’s public image.

As Ray Jordan pointed out in a post yesterday, though public perceptions of Johnson & Johnson were taken into account, this was about protecting intellectual property and upholding the law — and many attempts were made to work with the Red Cross to resolve this before it got to this point. To give on this point raises the risk that others will follow the American Red Cross and violate the trademark on these and other products.

Some folks seemed to understand this.

Seth Godin certainly did, and on his blog went on to propose what the Red Cross should be saying publicly, given it has violated the Johnson & Johnson trademark.

Steve Woodruff at Impactiviti likewise expressed some sympathy to Johnson & Johnson’s position — and the need to protect the trademark — though he pointed out the beating the company is likely to take in the court of public opinion for taking these steps. On his StickyFigure blog he asks whether principle or pragmatism will carry the day.

We’ll see. In the meantime, my friend Margaret Gurowitz has provided some history of the origin of the Red Cross logo on Kilmer House that is well worth reading.

2 Responses to “And the Coverage Continues…”

  1. Sister Elias Freeman says

    I am a retied Episcopal nun deeply involved in the needs of those displaced by circumstances beyond their control. When I heard about the suit against the Red Cross, I was dumbfounded. I called J&J for more information, and a woman in Public Relations assured my I would be called back. However, when she called me back, it was to inform me that this blog was available, and no one would be returning my request for information.

    I have read materials from both J&J and the Red Cross. According to the Red Cross, not only does J&J demand a cease-and-desist, but also that the Red Cross turn over all their suit-related products, all the money (with interest)from these products, and pay PUNITIVE DAMAGES to J&J. I understand the contention regarding use of the red-cross logo. I try to make informed decisions and to employ critical thinking.

    I used to be director of media relations for an insurance company, and I can read between the lines of this blog, particularly the attempt to improve J&J’s image by pointing out the millions of dollars it has given to the Red Cross and the soft-pedaling of things like returning money “with interest” and receiving “punitive damages. I find these parts of the lawsuit unconscionable.

    As a result, I have decided I will no longer buy products sold by Johnson & Johnson. I have no interest in supporting a corporate giant that is using a sledgehammer to squash an insect.

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