Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 11:32 UK

Red cross symbol dispute settled

Gauze pads manufactured by Johnson & Johnson
J&J said it would not pursue the dispute

Medical firm Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the American Red Cross have agreed to end their legal dispute over the charity's use of the red cross symbol.

The deal avoids a trial and upholds the right of the American Red Cross to use the emblem for commercial purposes.

J&J had alleged that an agreement with the charity's founder in 1895 gave it the exclusive use of the symbol as a trademark for drug products.

It said the charity had broken this deal by licensing the symbol to firms.

The charity had called the lawsuit "obscene".

It said many of the products at issue were health and safety kits, and that profits from their sale had been used to support disaster-relief campaigns.

Rulings accepted

The resolution accepted recent rulings by US District Court Judge Jed Rakoff.

Mr Rakoff ruled that the American Red Cross did have the right to use its logo for commercial purposes, such as sales of first-aid products to US retailers.

J&J said that following the court ruling it had no desire to continue its dispute through trial and appeal.

"Johnson & Johnson brought the lawsuit very reluctantly only to protect what we believed were important trademark issues," said J&J chief executive William Weldon.

J&J's lawsuit had asked for sales of disputed products - including medical gloves, nail clippers, combs and toothbrushes - to be stopped and unsold items to be handed over to J&J.

J&J, best known for its Band-Aid bandages and baby products, first used the symbol as a trademark in 1887, the same year it was incorporated as a business.

The red cross symbol was adopted by the forerunners to the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863.

The symbol was chosen to denote respect for army medical services, first aid volunteers and victims of wars and armed conflicts around the world.

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09 Aug 07 |  Business
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