Red Cross logo

The Red Cross logo was designed by Henri Dunant in 1863.

red cross logo

red cross flag

In order to avoid “semantic noise,” the International Red Cross uses the Red Crescent name and trademark in some Arab World countries that have a predominantly Muslim population.

Origin of the emblems

The Red Cross emblem is an inversion of the Swiss flag (the flag is a white cross on a red background). This recognises the historic connection between Switzerland and the original Geneva Convention of 1864.

But while the emblem has no intentional religious meaning, the symbol reminded soldiers from the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey) of the crusaders of the Middle Ages, and so in 1876 they began using a Red Crescent instead.

Johnson & Johnson sue Red Cross over logo

In 2007, the pharmaceuticals firm Johnson & Johnson sued the Red Cross over their logo.

“Johnson & Johnson began using the red cross design as a trademark in 1887 — some years after the creation of the American Red Cross but before it received its congressional charter in 1900. The lawsuit contends that the charter did not empower the Red Cross to engage in commercial activities competing with a private business.”

Red Cross president Mark Everson said, “For a multi-billion dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statue… simply so that J&J can make more money, is obscene.”

Red Cross history
The Red Cross at work during the Franco Prussian war


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