Our Initiative to Protect the Meaning
of "Social Enterprise"


Salesforce.com Withdraws Applications to Trademark the Term "Social Enterprise"

We are delighted to report that yesterday, September 4, Salesforce.com agreed to withdraw its applications to trademark the term "Social Enterpirse," 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 enage in the growth of the sector. 

Salesforce.com's complete statement can be found at this link:

http://www.salesforce.com/company/news-press/press-releases/2012/09/120904.jsp

SEA thanks our friends and members who have mobilized around this issue and made their voices heard, including the dozens who have sent us letters for the USPTO.

For continued updates and to monitor the company's progress in withdrawing the phrase from its marketing efforts, check back with us regularly. 

 


Overview

August 28th, 2012 -- Social Enterprise Alliance today announced its opposition to salesforce.com’s effort to gain a trademark on the term “social enterprise”. Simultaneously, it reached out to the CEO of salesforce.com with a proposal to create a deep partnership between salesforce.com and the global social enterprise movement in order to protect the good work of the social enterprise field.

SEA is taking four steps:

1. In solidarity with the global social enterprise community (http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/policy-campaigns/campaigns/not-in-our-name), SEA calls on salesforce.com to withdraw its recent U.S., U.K., E.U. and Jamaican trademark applications.

2. SEA will facilitate an outreach to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to support its decision to reject salesforce.com’s attempt to gain a U.S. trademark through a special section on its website: www.se-alliance.org/protect.

3. SEA has announced the launch of a new project, THISisSocialEnterprise.com, as 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.

4. Finally, SEA has reached out to the founder and CEO of salesforce.com, Marc Benioff, to engage in a deep discussion of ways the company and the social enterprise movement can collaborate to build the social enterprise field.

A full text of SEA’s press release can be found below.
 


USPTO Petition

SEA has issued a formal letter in support of the USPTO's ruling, which you can read in PDF format here. We are joined in this by field leading-social enterprise Benetech, whose President and CEO recently issued this statement.

We urge the global social enterprise community and its allies to support the US Patent and Trademark Office's original decision to deny salesforce.com's trademark of the term "social enterprise" by sending a letter supporting SEA's position.

The USPTO requires that all public opinion be expressed via physical written documents. To aid and expedite this process on our supporters' behalves, SEA has prepared the following action plan for you to follow:

1. Get a template of a letter supporting SEA's position in one of the following formats:

Word 2010 | Word 2003 | OpenOffice.org | Google Docs | Plain Text

2. Customize the letter by filling in the <<BRACKETED>> sections.

3. Put the letter on your organization's letterhead, sign it, and scan the signed letter and upload it to Social Enterprise Alliance via this link — http://www.tfaforms.com/255532 — by September 5, 2012, 1PM Central time, and we will deliver it for you along with letters from other campaign participants.


Press Release

Download a copy of the press release in Word format here, or in PDF format here.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Minneapolis, Minnesota — August 27, 2012

Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) opposes Salesforce.com’s attempt to trademark the term “social enterprise” and encourages Salesforce.com’s engagement to build the field.

Social Enterprise Alliance — the membership organization for social enterprise in North America with over 1,000 members and 13 regional chapters across major U.S. markets — today announced its opposition to Salesforce.com’s effort to gain trademarks on the term “social enterprise”.  Simultaneously, it reached out to the CEO of salesforce.com with a proposal to create a deep partnership between Salesforce.com and the global social enterprise movement.

“Social enterprise” is a phrase that for more than two decades has been commonly used to describe business models, both nonprofit and for-profit, whose primary purpose is the common good.  Last year, Salesforce.com, the publicly-traded customer relationship management (CRM) and cloud computing company began using the phrase to describe businesses that are socially networked through its cloud CRM products, and has recently applied for trademarks on the phrase in the U.S.,U.K., E.U., and Jamaica.

SEA is part of a campaign that was initiated by Social Enterprise U.K. (SEUK) in response to salesforce.com’s trademark application in the U.K. (see http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/policy-campaigns/campaigns/not-in-our-name).  Salesforce.com has already applied for similar marks in the U.S. and has been initially rejected by the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) on the grounds that the phrase is merely descriptive and that a salesforce.com mark would cause confusion within the field.

“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,” said Kevin Lynch, President & CEO of SEA.  “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.”

Therefore, SEA is taking four steps:

1.    In solidarity with the global social enterprise community, SEA calls on salesforce.com to withdraw its recent U.K., E.U. and Jamaican trademark applications.

2.    Salesforce.com’s U.S. application is currently in the response period after being initially rejected by USPTO.  SEA calls on its members, and friends of the social enterprise movement, to contact USPTO to declare their support of USPTO’s decision to reject the salesforce.com mark.  SEA will facilitate this outreach to USPTO through a special section on its website:  www.se-alliance.org/protect

3.    SEA has announced the launch of a new project, THISisSocialEnterprise.com, as 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. 

According to Lynch, “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.  We will be launching THISisSocialEnterprise.com as a way of conveying to salesforce.com and its business partners exactly what is at risk if its strategy succeeds.”

4.    Finally, SEA has reached out to the founder and CEO of salesforce.com, Marc Benioff, to engage in a deep discussion of ways the company and the social enterprise movement can collaborate to build the social enterprise field.

“The fact that salesforce.com invented the 1/1/1 model for integrating people, technology and resources towards a better world convinces us that they would be an ideal partner for building the social enterprise movement that we represent,” Lynch said.  “Nothing about the company causes us to attribute any ill intent to their marketing efforts around ‘social enterprise’.  We imagine that it is simply a case of ‘mistaken identity’.  We hope that engaging them to not only disambiguate the term, but to actually help us build the international movement, might be an even more potent platform for them.”

SEA will keep its stakeholders apprised of its efforts via this link: www.se-alliance.org/protect

Contact:

Kevin Lynch, President & CEO

kevin@se-alliance.org

202-758-0194

About Social Enterprise Alliance

Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) is the champion for social enterprise in the United States with more than 1,000 members, many of whom participate in 13 local chapters in 11 states.  Its aim is for social enterprise to reach its full potential as a force for positive social change, in service to the common good. To achieve this purpose, it provides social enterprises with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and works on building an optimal environment in which they can thrive. www.se-alliance.org


THISisSocialEnterprise.com

We believe it is important to not simply oppose Salesforce.com’s efforts, but to create a greater understanding of the global movement for good which Salesforce.com's action threatens.

We are launching THISisSocialEnterprise.com as way of conveying to Salesforce.com and its business partners exactly what is at risk if its strategy succeeds. Sign up here to get an alert when the site launches.

 

Disclosure: Like much of the social sector, SEA uses salesforce.com's CRM system to store and manage some of our data. We will continue to do so while we feel there is still the opportunity to open up a positive dialogue with Salesforce.

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