Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Johnson & Johnson seeing red

Marketplace Staff Aug 9, 2007


Scott Jagow: Here’s something you don’t hear everyday. A company known for baby shampoo is fighting with the American Red Cross.

Johnson & Johnson has filed a lawsuit against the Red Cross over the little red cross symbol they’ve both been using since the 1880s. Jeremy Hobson tells us what’s going on.

Jeremy Hobson: According to the pact J&J made with the Red Cross back in 1895, the Red Cross wasn’t supposed to use the symbol for commercial purposes.

But three years ago, the organization started selling first-aid kits, as well as nail clippers and humidifiers, all emblazoned with the symbol.

Johnson & Johnson attorney John Crisan says that crossed the line.

John Crisan: They do compete directly with us in the retail and commercial markets, and it ultimately damages our brand.

A brand that earned more than $3 billion last quarter. The lawsuit calls for all sales of the products to be stopped and all the proceeds given to Johnson & Johnson.

Carrie Martin at the Red Cross says she’s astonished by the suit.

Carrie Martin: It’s really a shame that we have to waste our valuable resources on this litigation.

The Red Cross says the $10 million its made selling its products goes to disaster relief.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.