Persuing the Profit from the Non-Profit

A Fortune 500 company is suing the American Red Cross.

Johnson & Johnson, which ranks as the 36th most profitable corporation in the United States (above Metlife, Pfizer, Dow Chemical and Microsoft to name a few...) is suing the American Red Cross for use of the emblem on inventory that is not specifically related to disaster relief.

This Red Cross inventory that is sold to the general public includes such items as first aid kits, sanitizers, and medical gloves.

According to the Red Cross, they had used the emblem six years before Johnson & Johnson put a trademark on the emblem.

Apparently, Johnson & Johnson and the American Red Cross have had good relations in the past, as the American Red Cross has sold commercial first aid kits for over a hundred years.

On the corporation's side, Johnson & Johnson allege that Clara Barton signed an agreement on how the Red Cross emblem was to be used. And this use has been violated.

So, what does Johnson & Johnson want from this suit? they just want the American Red Cross to cease using the symbol on their commercial products? That might be okay.

..........................oh no. Of course not. The corporation would not get any money from that, now would they?

They are demanding:

  • Stop the Red Cross and its licensing partners from using the Red Cross emblem permanently on first aid, preparedness and related products sold to the public;
  • Surrender to J&J for destruction the Red Cross' inventory of accused products;
  • Hand over to J&J all Red Cross proceeds from the sale of these products with interest
  • Pay punitive damages to J&J along with attorney fees related to its legal action against the Red Cross
According to the Red Cross, in 2006 they made only $2 million in revenue from the products in dispute.
***An average of 91 cents for every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.

Johnson & Johnson may be able to pocket this $2 + million, putting it into their bank account along with their personal $11 billion in profits ($53.3 billion in revenues) they made last year.

O wonderful America. Freedom has its fees. Where a wealthy corporation may sue and collect money from a non-profit.