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UPDATE: Influential figures rally against SF’s ‘social enterprise’ trademark

4th Sep 2012
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Notable figures from across the globe have added their support to the campaign against’s attempt to trademark the term 'social enterprise'.

Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, co-authors of The Spirit Level, are just some of those that have penned their names on a protest letter to CEO and chairman of Marc Benioff.

The letter states that’s attempt to use the term for “private profit” is“very damaging to our movement” and called on the Cloud giant to withdraw its current and all future applications regarding ‘social enterprise’, as well as to stop using the term to describe its products and services.

It also asked to stop advocating that its customers – such as Virgin America, Burberry and Spotify – are social enterprises. has attempted to trademark the term in the US, UK, Australia and Jamaica. However, its application to the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was initially rejected back in March on the grounds that “the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or purpose of applicant’s goods and/or services”.

USPTO gave the company six months to respond to the refusal letter – deadline 16 September – if it wants to continue its trademark application. contacted regarding its intentions but received no response.

Most recently, Benioff himself responded to the furore from the social enterprise industry by reiterating that it intends to “register the trademark SOCIAL ENTERPRISE in connection with ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE only”.  


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