Salesforce, the US-based the customer relations management software solutions and enterprise cloud company, has applied to register European Community trade marks for “SOCIAL ENTERPRISE”. Social Enterprise UK, a national body which promotes social enterprise (business organisations that prioritise community, human and environmental well-being over profit for shareholders so that society benefits from their profits), has hit out at Salesforce’s application. Salesforce has responded by saying that its application only relates to the IT sector and they are trying to help people by what they call “social enterprise technologies”.
However, Paul Gershlick, a Partner at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, argues that that is missing the point. “Salesforce has gone for a very wide specification in its trade mark application, and it has not specifically carved out from the ambit of its trade mark specification any social enterprise-type businesses. Social enterprises can, of course, be in any sector, including IT, education or programmes. Therefore, in theory, Salesforce’s application could stifle use of that term by social enterprise businesses. The reality, hopefully, is that OHIM will not grant the trade mark application on absolute grounds that it is descriptive, lacking distinctiveness or possibly deceptive, and even if the application is granted then hopefully Salesforce will not stop any genuine social enterprise from using that term in practice.”
For more on this story in The Mail on Sunday, please click here: http://www.fmwf.com/media-type/features-media-type/2012/08/trademarking-a-common-term-not-so-social/.