US Joins Opposition to ‘Social Enterprise’ Trademark
30 August 2012 at 12:06 pm
The US membership organisation, Social Enterprise Alliance has joined UK and Australian opposition to efforts by global cloud computing company, Salesforce.com to gain a trademark on the term ‘social enterprise’.
The Alliance says it has reached out to the CEO of Salesforce.com with a proposal to create what it says is a deep partnership between Salesforce.com and the global social enterprise movement in order to protect the good work of the social enterprise field.
It says ‘social enterprise’ is a phrase that for more than 20 years has been commonly used to describe business models, both Not for Profit and for-profit, whose primary purpose is the common good.
The Alliance says that last year in the US, Salesforce.com began using the phrase to describe businesses that are socially networked through its cloud Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products, and has recently applied for a trademark on the phrase in the US, UK, EU, Australia and Jamaica.
The Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) has joined the campaign that was initiated by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) in response to salesforce.com’s trademark application in the U.K.
Salesforce has defended its plans to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’ world wide, in an online company blog.
“Salesforce.com has applied for and has been initially rejected for a US trademark for the phrase ‘social enterprise’. Salesforce.com now has an opportunity to respond by September 9th on why they believe they should receive the mark,” President & CEO of SEA Kevin Lynch said.
“Clearly, salesforce.com’s trademark application, if successful, could pre-empt legitimate social enterprises from using this elegant but ubiquitous phrase to describe the hard, innovative work they do to create a better world. The term is generic and descriptive, and until very recently was never construed to describe a cloud CRM system,” Lynch said.
“In fact, there are many social enterprises already operating in the computer and software spaces for which salesforce.com is specifically attempting to secure the mark. They, along with all social enterprises across the globe, would be deeply damaged if salesforce.com succeeds.”
SEA says its campaign of opposition includes calling on salesforce.com to withdraw its recent trademark applications and asks it’s members to write to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to object to the application.
The SEA has also launched a project called THISisSocialEnterprise.com, which is says is a launching pad for social enterprises and their friends to tell the stories of a global movement that began long before salesforce.com began using the phrase to describe its cloud products.
“We believe it is important to not simply oppose salesforce.com’s efforts, but to create a greater understanding of the global movement for the good which salesforce.com – perhaps inadvertently – threatens,” Lynch said.
In the UK Civil Society Media is reporting that the CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, has written a short message to all those who have contacted Salesforce about its application to trademark the term 'social enterprise' saying they are “confused”.
Benioff is reported to have written that “Salesforce has applied to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’ in connection with enterprise software only, and is not seeking to use the phrase social enterprise generally. Our work with non-profits globally over the last decade speaks for itself.”