September 21st, 2007


Since Johnson & Johnson filed suit against the American Red Cross back in August, I’ve heard from friends, acquaintances and colleagues — critics and supporters alike — asking why I don’t talk more about this case on JNJBTW.

While I’d often like to provide more context and information about legal actions — or introduce legal experts who can do so — as I’ve said before, Johnson & Johnson typically prefers not to litigate its cases outside of the courts.

I mention this because yesterday the American Red Cross submitted its response to the Johnson & Johnson suit, providing their legal position. Our position on this case can be found on our website. The ARC’s filing comes on the heels of the filing of an amended complaint by Johnson & Johnson earlier this month.

Though there will no doubt be renewed questions about the reasons for the lawsuit and the validity of our legal arguments, for the time being I’m going take a pass on any further discussion of this suit on JNJBTW. As indicated in the statement on our website, it is now appropriate to let the judicial process take its course.

Anyone reviewing the court filings can easily see why there is a reluctance to discuss ongoing lawsuits outside of the courts. The documents provide extensive details about the use of the Red Cross symbol over the past 100 years and why both organizations believe they are in the right. That’s why continued debate over this dispute is best left to a venue where there are rules covering the submission and presentation of facts – thereby giving both organizations a level playing field to lay out their cases.

4 Responses to “Update…”

  1. Antoine Clarke says

    So the lawyers think they can control the message. Ha!

    They certainly can’t prevent third parties from forming a [often very bad] opinion of a plaintiff.

    A posting which states: “the lawyers won’t let me say more,” begs the question, “what do they know about corporate communications and brand image?” It is however, a lot better than not saying anything and letting conspiracy theorists rip.

    I’ve very rarely dealt with a corporate lawyer who wouldn’t at heart prefer there to be zero communication from companies (even when the business is communication) and zero response to enquiries from the media and public. Can’t be sued for having a tin ear.

    A look at the public trust in pharmaceutical firms measured by PwC and Harris Interactive shows what a *wonderful success* the lawyer/fear-driven communications model has been. Not.

    No one is realistically expecting sub judice information. But, is the hearing date, the venue, and how long a case of this sort generally takes really a legal issue? I think not.

    I like the fact that you linked to your side’s position documents. I’d be truly impressed if you were allowed to link to the ARC’s. And fall off my chair if you linked to comments about both.

  2. Stephen says

    It seems clear by your veiled statements that J&J’s corporate lawyers are scared by the Red Cross response filed on September 20. Perhaps J&J thought the Red Cross would run away from this confrontation when faced with a lawsuit by a $50 billion corporate bully. It appears that nothing could have been further from the truth. After reviewing the Red Cross’ sound legal arguments outlined in their countersuit – which is posted prominently on their website – it appears that the Red Cross is coming from a place of strength and confidence that stems from wide-reaching use of the symbol granted to them by Congress.

    Shame on J&J! I hope the court levels hefty punitive damages against the company and requires that all legal fees be paid by J&J for demonstrating its greed in this public relations debacle.

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