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Salesforce won’t trademark 'social enterprise'

Common sense prevails
Wed Sep 05 2012, 10:27
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ON DEMAND software shop Salesforce has cooled on its plans to trademark the term "social enterprise".

The plans drew a lot of flack, and the firm, which has used the term and said it "evangelised" it for two years, has decided that trying to trademark it is a bad idea.

"It was never our intention to create confusion in the social sector which we have supported since our founding," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of

"As a result of the feedback we received, has decided to withdraw its efforts to trademark the term 'social enterprise' and plans to discontinue its use in our marketing."

In its statement the firm said that it has engaged with the people that opposed its plans, both non-profits and for profit firms,and listened to their concerns. It seems that it agreed with their concerns that the term "social enterprise" could be applied to more than "mobile cloud technologies", sales related software and private companies.

As well as cancelling plans to trademark the term, Salesforce has decided not to use it in its marketing materials.

This will be good news for Social Enterprise UK, the organisation that reacted angrily to Salesforce's plans and coordinated a letter of opposition (PDF) and the Not In Our Name protest campaign.

"Social enterprise is widely understood to describe businesses that exist to tackle social and environmental issues, whose surpluses are principally reinvested to do so, rather than driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners," wrote the campaigners in a letter that was also signed by a number of other organisations.

"Your organisation's attempts to take over the term are very damaging to our movement. We ask that Salesforce ceases to use the term 'social enterprise' for private profit."

In response to the campaign Salesforce said that it did not intend to keep others from using the term, but now it has made that more definite. µ


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