#NotInOurName – Salesforce misses the point

Have you heard of the term ‘Social Enterprise’?

***************  GREAT NEWS!!!! ***************

Salesforce has dropped it’s trademark attempt of the term Social Enterprise!

We would like to give a big Hi-5 to the team at Salesforce who decided to pull the pin & leave the term ‘social enterprise’ to mission driven businesses like ourselves, who put purpose before profit.

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Recently Salesforce.com went somewhat under the radar in applying for the trademark for the term ‘Social Enterprise’.  In some ways, we wondered how long it would take for this situation to blow up, since various companies had begun using the term ‘social business’ referring to businesses that use social tools (such as Facebook & Twitter) for customer service.

 

Truthfully, using social tools has been a big part of business for awhile – email & phone, customer forums and message boards have been a dominant part of communication in business for well over 20 years now. It doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a ‘Social Enterprise’ or ‘Social Business’ because you’re using them.

 

That said, the backlash that has sprung up against the attempt to trademark the term ‘social enterprise’ is interesting to watch.  It’s largely been led by the UK social enterprise networks such as Social Enterprise UK which launched the #NotInOurName campaign to stop Salesforce - you can follow it here on twitter. Due to Richard Branson’s outspoken support to ‘screw business as usual’, he’s even been asked to intervene through the Virgin group too!

 

The term ‘Social Enterprise’ has been used for businesses which are trading to achieve a Social, Environmental or Cultural mission for longer than Salesforce has been trading (13 years).  Here at Bucky Box, we think of it as ‘more than profit’, as we focus on maximising positive impact instead of simply the dollar value.  The distaste that has been expressed at Salesforce’s move to trademark the term is clearly evident and well founded – a company seeking to cash in on the term threatens to undermine a movement, and an entire sector which contributes millions of dollars to economies around the world, creates positive social & environmental impacts, and is seeking to redefine the compass of ‘good business’.

 

That’s why we’re standing up & giving our voice to Social Enterprise UK’s #NotInOurName campaign. Here’s our line in the sand. We believe Salesforce’s recent reply totally misses the point and shows their naïve dismissal of the issue:

 

When it comes to trademarks, businesses or organizations in different sectors can use the same trademark. 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.

 

Salesforce don’t seem to realise that social enterprise is not just about a sector – about philanthropy or not-for-profit, it’s a revolution in the business world which is blending social & environmental return on investment with financial.  For example, Bucky Box is a social enterprise, which is creating software for local food distribution.  So we are working in very much the same sector as salesforce, but we have a more than profit business model.  Under the trademark, we wouldn’t be able to call ourself a ‘social enterprise’, which we believe is a ridiculous attempt by a corporation to control the use of this term.  Pro bono Australia agrees with us.

 

So join us, and millions of people around the world who benefit from the work of the huge numbers of Social Enterprises, in telling Salesforce to back down and recognise that there’s something bigger than profit at stake here.

 

Editor’s note: we’ve also just had a discussion about which CRM system to use, and needless to say Salesforce did not get a look in. We highly suggest taking a look at the very awesome OnePage CRM who have a great solution which is highly intuitive compared to the cumbersome Salesforce interface!  

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