Complaint over software company's attempts to trademark 'social enterprise'

Social Enterprise UK chief executive Peter Holbrook says Salesforce's use of the term to promote its products is confusing and damaging to the sector

Peter Holbrook
Peter Holbrook

Social Enterprise UK has warned one of the world’s leading sales software companies that its use of the term "social enterprise" to promote its products is "confusing" and "damaging".

The trade body, which represents 635 social firms, has written an open letter to Salesforce protesting about its use of the term in its marketing materials and attempts to trademark it in the US and Jamaica.

The company, which provides software for sales people, including social media tools, uses the term "social enterprise" to describe how its products can help its customers.

Its UK website includes the line: "Salesforce.com offers everything you need to transform your business into a social enterprise, so you can connect to customers and employees like never before."

In the letter, Peter Holbrook, chief executive of SEUK, says: "We are increasingly concerned about what is happening at Salesforce: your repeated use of the name of our sector to describe your products and services and your attempts to trademark ‘social enterprise’ in countries around the world for this use. We hope you will understand that this is confusing to our customers and stakeholders, and therefore damaging to us all."

He adds: "Confusion of the term ‘social enterprise’ and our cause at this time is dangerous to us and the people, communities and organisations we are trying to help."

Salesforce is "repeatedly attempting to legally appropriate the term for private gain", he states.

SEUK has tried to contact Salesforce "through numerous channels", says Holbrook, but its approaches had "so far been brushed aside".

Salesforce declined to comment.

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