“After more than a century of strong cooperation in the use of the Red Cross trademark, with both organizations respecting the legal boundaries for each others' unique legal rights, we were very disappointed to find that the American Red Cross [ARC] started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes on all types of products being sold in many different retail and other commercial outlets. These products include baby mitts, nail clippers, combs, toothbrushes and humidifiers. This action is in direct violation of a Federal statute protecting the mark as well as in violation of our longstanding trademark rights.
For the past several months, Johnson & Johnson has attempted to resolve this issue through cooperation and discussion with the ARC, and recently offered mediation, to no avail. The Company was left with no choice but to seek protection of our trademark rights through the courts.”
Mark W. Everson, President and CEO of the American Red Cross, had harsh words for J&J saying: “For a multi-billion dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statute that was created to protect the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross -- simply so that J&J can make more money -- is obscene.”
J&J Blog Author Does Not Discuss Litigation, But There’s Still An Opportunity Here
Marc Monseau, author of Johnson & Johnson’s corporate blog, JNJ BTW has said that he will not discuss litigation the company is involved in. Given this, there is not much chance that he will talk about why J&J decided to sue the Red Cross. However, with some observers criticizing the company for a bad public relations move, it might be a good idea for Monseau to say something about the case -- even if he just reinforces the company line. Or, if Monseau is not comfortable discussing the suit, he can publish commentary from someone knowledgeable about it. Depending on what he says, this move could this could help mitigate some of the bad press the company is currently receiving and significantly elevate the influence of J&J's corporate blog.
This is one case where a corporate blog can be a powerful communications tool. Monseau has already provided some interesting insight into the company’s recent cost cutting moves and could do the same in this instance. We’ll see what happens.
Disclosure: I have had a number of unofficial conversations with Monseau about his blog and the company’s social media communications strategy, but none on this subject.