Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Red Cross Trademark Far Too Diluted to Defend

Over on Terra Nova, I found this note from Dave Hunter about the Canadian Red Cross getting uppity about videogame designers using a red cross as an icon for health. Apparently they don’t want to be associated with all of these shoot ’em up games the kids are playing these days. Dave Pratt, the international issues director of the Canadian Red Cross told the Vancouver Sun says:

“The fact that the Red Cross is … used in videos which contain strong language and violence is also of concern to us in that they directly conflict with the basic humanitarian principles espoused by the Red Cross movement,”

Mr. Pratt is making two critical mistakes. At this point, the red cross would have a hard time defending it’s intellectual property rights because of the effects of diluation and more importantly he shouldn’t want to defend it anyway! Mr. Pratt needs to realize that his logo is being drilled into the head of every eight year old as a symbol of health. What organization wouldn’t want that association? It’s like Nike complaining that good Atheletes are wearing their swoosh. You want that assocation. That association will ensure that a future generation of doners thinks that the Red Cross is a good thing. Somebody slap Mr. Pratt with a marketing textbook.

Secondly, this has been going on for a very long time. As this one law site points out:

Trademark rights can also be lost through dilution. Dilution commonly occurs where competitors adopt very similar trademarks and the trademark holder takes no action to defend the mark.

There, you see? And that was just the first law site that came up on Google. You can find this stuff anywhere. People have been using the red cross icon in videgames for at least a decade. The Red Cross can’t suddenly wake up to this and try to scramble and protect its assets. They were asleep at the wheel and that was the same way that Kleenex and Band-aid lost their trademarks.

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