Salesforce’s attempts to trademark ‘Social Enterprise’ reaches the EU


Salesforce, a software and content management company, extend their application to trademark ‘social enterprise’ to the EU.

It follows the same attempt in the US and Jamaica, moves already widely condemned by the social enterprise sector.

To counter Salesforce’s latest actions, SEUK has today written to UK and EU politicians as well as the Intellectual Property Office asking for support to help safeguard the social enterprise term.

If Salesforce’s EU application is successful, they may have the power to legally block organisations trading under the term ‘social enterprise’ in territories where the trademark is in place, a move that could have a detrimental effect on social enterprises of which there are 68,000 in the UK alone. Moreover they will cause confusion, damaging the whole social enterprise movement at a critical time when it is breaking through into the mainstream.

In 2002 the UK Government Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) defined a social enterprise:

“A social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”

In response to the news, Social Enterprise UK’s chief executive Peter Holbrook, said:

“This further attempt by Salesforce to trademark ‘social enterprise’ in the EU is of serious concern to those working in the sector.  If Salesforce is successful in its application, it could restrict social enterprises – good businesses that have been using the term for well over a decade. There is a great deal at stake here.

“It’s difficult to understand why Salesforce is willing to jeopardise a worldwide movement that has honourable motives.  There are any number of other terms that the company could use to describe its products and services. 

“The successive attempts by Salesforce to trademark the term has galvanised the sector. We have been inundated with offers of support and advice from our members and corporate partners.”

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