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NEW YORK, Nov 6 (Reuters) - A U.S. court has thrown out a key claim brought by Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N in a lawsuit against the American Red Cross over the use of the red cross symbol.
Other portions of the case can go forward, according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan. The order was issued on Monday but made public on Tuesday.
The judge granted a request by the American Red Cross to dismiss a claim in J&J’s lawsuit contending that the relief organization had promised not to engage in certain commercial activity, including licensing the red cross symbol to others and selling first-aid products in competition with J&J, according to court papers. J&J had sued American Red Cross in August over the use by the relief group and its partners of J&J’s trademark red cross logo on first aid kits, hand sanitizer and medical gloves sold to the public.
In his ruling, the judge also limited the scope of another claim to allegations of interference with J&J's economic relations with Target Corp TGT.N, Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT.N, Walgreen WAG.N and CVS CVS.N.
Rakoff, however, denied a request by the relief group and other defendants to throw out certain other breach-of-contract and interference claims brought by the drug maker.
In a statement, the American Red Cross said that a “very significant portion” of the lawsuit had been dismissed and called for J&J to end the case. “I appreciate the court’s decision and hope that Johnson & Johnson will reassess their actions and drop the case altogether,” American Red Cross Chief Executive Mark Everson said.
A J&J representative could not be reached immediately for comment.
The court has set a schedule for hearing the remaining claims early next year, the American Red Cross said.
(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal, editing by Dave Zimmerman; Additional reporting by Esha Dey in Bangalore)
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