The Canadian Red Cross, having eliminated all pain and suffering in Canada, has set its sights on video games that use red crosses to denote in-game health-packs. They've sent lawyer-letters to game-makers telling them that marking health-packs with red crosses is illegal and will damage the Canadian Red Cross.
Why is the Red Cross wasting the charitable dollars we donate to it shaking down video-games on the basis of some trademark dilution bogeyman? Is there any question that the use of red crosses to denote health-packs in games will bring even the most minute quantum of harm to the Red Cross? Kee-rist. I mean, I hear about a lot of stupid, crazy stuff, but this takes (today's) cake.
The fact that the Red Cross is also 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," Pratt said in a Jan. 31 letter to a Vancouver law firm that represents several Canadian game developers. "The crux of the problem is that the misuse of the Red Cross in video games is not only in contravention of the law, it also encourages others to believe that the emblem of the Red Cross is `public property' and can be freely used by any organization or indeed for commercial purposes."
I contacted the Canadian Red Cross for comment on this — I wanted to know if there was any precedent for Canadian charities suffering harm arising from game-based trademark dilution, and if they could cite precedent or statute under which the games' use of the red cross was unlawful, but they didn't get back to me. If they contact me later, I'll update this post.
Update: Allen sez, "The Red Cross has an even bigger, more menacing trademark infringer. A little outfit they call Switzerland. Somebody should inform the Red Cross that these guys have been flagrantly using the unique design they created for their logo."
Update 2: Varney sez, "The International Red Cross recently chose a new, neutral symbol which can be used anywhere without offending any theology. One would imagine that the old Red Cross would be deprecated once this is introduced."