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American Red Cross Files Response to J&J Lawsuit


In its legal response to Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) recent lawsuit, the American Red Cross said today that Congress and the Federal government have long recognized the right of the charity to use the Red Cross emblem on products sold to support its mission. It requested a dismissal of several counts on legal grounds. In addition, the Red Cross filed counterclaims to the J&J lawsuit, accusing the for-profit pharmaceutical company of improperly using the Red Cross emblem.

“Johnson & Johnson’s lawsuit is wrong on the facts and on the law,” said Mark W. Everson, President and CEO of the American Red Cross. “For more than a hundred years, in keeping with our Congressional charter, the Red Cross has used its own emblem to support its health, safety and preparedness mission. We will vigorously defend our right to provide the American people with products and services that advance this mission,” said Everson.

In papers today filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Red Cross makes clear that:

Congress has given the Red Cross, through its charter, explicit rights to use the Red Cross emblem for the “purpose of trade or as an advertisement to induce the sale of any article whatsoever for any business or charitable purpose.”
In 1978, the Justice Department, calling the American Red Cross an “instrumentality of the United States,” recognized the right of the Red Cross to use its emblem in arrangements with other entities, such as those attacked by J&J.
Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, registered the trademark nine years before J&J did.
Congress specifically intended for the Red Cross to have wide-ranging use of the Red Cross emblem, in support of its humanitarian, preparedness and health and safety-related mission.
During World War II, J&J approached Congress asking it to limit the Red Cross’s use of its own emblem: Congress refused.
The Red Cross response also contends that J&J has worked to expand its use of a red cross symbol beyond its grandfathered rights, at the expense of the Red Cross and its mission.

Congress “grandfathered” J&J’s use of the red cross symbol – placing very specific, narrow restrictions on what the for-profit company could do.
Today, J&J uses the Red Cross emblem beyond their “grandfathered” rights.
“While it’s unfortunate that the issue has reached this point, we have an obligation – on behalf of our chapters, blood donation operations, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers – to protect the proper use of the Red Cross emblem,” Everson continued. “Red Cross chapters across this country and Red Cross societies overseas have encouraged us to defend the Red Cross against this unjustified attack.”

The Red Cross is charged with the mission of helping Americans prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters and emergencies. One way the Red Cross advances this mission is by providing first aid, health, safety and emergency preparedness products that people can conveniently purchase at places where they regularly shop. The Red Cross invests the proceeds from the sale of these products into fulfilling its humanitarian mission.

The J&J lawsuit comes as local Red Cross chapters are busy with National Preparedness Month. Research shows only 7 percent of Americans have taken the necessary steps to prepare for disasters, but that 82 percent would get prepared if it was easier to do. Red Cross items such as those that are the subject of the J&J lawsuit help families take the necessary steps to Be Red Cross Ready: to get a kit, make a plan and be informed.

The Red Cross response has been posted at

For more information, please contact Carrie Martin at (202) 303-4459.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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