Johnson & Johnson vs. the American Red Cross
In August of 2007, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) decided to sue the American Red Cross (ARC) for illegal use of the Red Cross symbol. For over 100 years, J&J and the ARC had had a working agreement that gave J&J the right to use the Red Cross symbol for commercial and for-profit products, while the ARC was allowed to use the symbol in any way it wanted so long as it promoted its humanitarian and non-profit mission given to the ARC by Congress. This all changed in 2004 when the ARC began licensing the symbol out to manufactures to produce for- profit goods to be sold in big box retailers and other stores. After attempts at mediation failed, J&J was left with no choice but to sue. This case gives background information on the situation and also shows the reaction of both sides once the suit is announced. The case will promote discussion of how companies and organizations should react to being sued and suing someone else and what communication channels needs to be addressed by these groups under such circumstances.
- To identify the problems that arise when a company decides to sue;
- To show how companies react to breaking news, both the side that breaks the news, and the side involved in the news story;
- To encourage discussion of how two sides involved in a suit can rebuild relationships with each other and the public;
- To encourage discussion of how a larger company should negotiate with a non-profit.