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Virgin’s Branson asked to intervene in Salesforce.com ‘social enterprise’ trademark row
Salesforce.com does not own or intend to own the trademark rights for the term social enterprise within the nonprofit sector.
Steve Garnett, chairman and co-president of EMEA Salesforce
Salesforce.com has broken its silence following repeated requests by those in the worldwide social enterprise movement to withdraw its attempts to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’ in the EU, US and Jamaica.
Yesterday (Thursday, 16 August) a blog was posted by Steve Garnett, chairman and co-president of EMEA Salesforce and its CEO, Marc Benioff, sent a reply to those who had emailed him directly expressing their concerns.
But UK umbrella body Social Enterprise UK is not happy – and has written to Virgin founder Richard Branson calling for his support.
In the blog, Garnett says there is ‘a social revolution happening’ and the company is leading ‘the next big shift in enterprise computing’. He says the efforts to trademark ‘social enterprise’ only apply to the information technology sector.
‘Salesforce.com does not own or intend to own the trademark rights for the term social enterprise within the nonprofit sector, and is not seeking to restrict descriptive uses of the phrase by others in philanthropy, social responsibility, community involvement or mission-driven organizations,’ says Garnett.
He adds: ‘Salesforce.com applauds and actively supports the efforts of organizations who work for social change and to improve our world.’
In his email to the people who expressed their concern to him, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said: ‘I think someone must be confused. Salesforce.com has applied to register the trademark SOCIAL ENTERPRISE in connection with ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE only. It is not seeking to use the phrase SOCIAL ENTERPRISE generally. Social Enterprise is something that I came up with to describe the next generation of enterprise software---that’s all.’
But Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) – the UK umbrella body for the sector - today commented that the responses failed to address the movement’s concerns.
SEUK boss Peter Holbrook said: ‘Their first attempts at reassuring the movement are confused, contradictory and very unhelpful, but we will continue to push for a meaningful and sensible dialogue with Salesforce.’
He said support for the campaign was growing, not just in the UK, but in the US and Australia too. ‘Together we are asking that this private company, reputed to be valued at $17bn, has a serious rethink and leaves the real social enterprises alone. We’re calling on our partners in the social economy to get behind this campaign.’
SEUK said Salesforce marketing repeatedly referred to private firms, including Virgin and Burberry, as ‘social enterprises’.
It has formally written to Richard Branson of Virgin and Angela Ahrendts of Burberry who are due to speak at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 12 conference in San Francisco later this year, to inform them of their concerns.
Holbrook continued: ‘Virgin and Burberry are global brands – they’re certainly not operating in software or data management. Neither has ever before claimed to be a social enterprise and we want for Salesforce to stop touting them as such.’
SEUK is talking to lawyers about next steps and has sent another letter to Marc Benioff today asking for clarification on a number of points.
Further information on the campaign can be found at www.socialenterprise.org.uk or on Twitter #notinourname
The Salesforce blog can be found here.