Salesforce Backdown on ‘Social Enterprise’ Trademark
Thursday, 6th September 2012 at 11:04 am
Global cloud computing company, Salesforce.com is to withdraw its applications to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’ after a world-wide storm of protest from Not for Profits in the social enterprise space, including Australia.
In July and August 2012, Salesforce.com made applications to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’ in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia setting off a series of online campaigns to fight the move from organisations such as Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) and the US Social Enterprise Alliance and an alliance of 14 Australian Not for Profits.
In a statement explaining its decision, Salesforce says that for nearly two years it has evangelized the term ‘social enterprise’ to describe how social and mobile cloud technologies empower companies to connect with customers, partners, and employees in entirely new ways.
“When salesforce.com applied to trademark the term in the IT sector earlier this year, members of the social sector expressed concern that it would cause confusion around the meaning of the term.
“The social sector, including both non-profits and for profits, define the term ‘social enterprise’ as organisations that apply commercial strategies to improve human and environmental well-being such as reducing poverty or improving education.
“Salesforce.com has engaged in a dialogue with a number of these concerned parties, listened to their feedback, and is now withdrawing its applications to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’.
“In addition, salesforce.com will look to remove any references to ‘social enterprise’ in its marketing materials in the future.
“It was never our intention to create confusion in the social sector which we have supported since our founding,” the chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com Marc Benioff said.
“As a result of the feedback we received, Salesforce.com has decided to withdraw its efforts to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’ and plans to discontinue its use in our marketing.”
The US Social Enterprise Alliance has responded saying it is delighted that Salesforce.com has agreed to withdraw its applications to trademark the term ‘Social Enterprise’, and to discontinue the use of the phrase in its marketing efforts.
“As part of the global effort to protect the identity of the social enterprise sector, we tip our hat to Salesforce.com and its chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff, for listening to our feedback and doing the right thing on this issue.
“We look forward to a continued dialogue with Mr. Benioff as to ways in which Salesforce.com might fully engage in the growth of the sector,” the SEA said.
One of Australia’s leading social enterprise development organisations, Social Traders says it welcomes the decision by Salesforce to withdraw their trademark application.
“We strongly supported the campaign of Social Enterprise UK and others around the world over recent weeks. This decision avoids potential confusion and distraction from the growing awareness and understanding of social enterprise here in Australia and globally over the last five years,” the Managing Director of Social Traders, David Brookes said.