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Showing posts from August, 2012

Opposing Salesforce.com attempt to TM "Social Enterprise"

I've been working closely with Kevin Lynch, the CEO of the Social Enterprise Alliance, on countering the efforts of Salesforce.com to attempt to trademark the name of our entire field, Social Enterprise. Kevin and the SEA today launched an Initiative To Protect the Meaning of Social Enterprise, supporting the efforts of our peers with Social Enterprise UK in their "NotInOurName" campaign. Here is the letter I'm sending to the USPTO supporting their initial recommendation against granting this registered trademark in the U.S.


August 28, 2012
Michael Webster, Examining Attorney
USPTO Law Office 102
Commissioner for Trademarks
Alexandria, VA

Re: Trademark Application 85492013, by Salesforce.com using the mark “Social Enterprise”

Dear Examiner Webster:

We note with interest the Examiner’s Office Action of March 13, 2012, stating the initial reasons for rejection of the referenced application. On behalf of our nonprofit organization, Benetech, and the thousands o…

Benetech, Bookshare and Google Summer of Code

Many thanks to Thushan Ganegedara for this guest post about his summer open source project.

I’m Thushan Ganegedara, a 3rd year undergraduate from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. My interests are Mobile Development and Computational Intelligence. My first-ever experience with Google Summer of Code has been with Benetech. I have realized that Benetech is indeed “technology serving humanity.” I feel fortunate to work with a set of employees who are technically competent yet very friendly and helpful.

My project is associated with the ‘Go Read’ Android application. Go Read is a free e-book reader that people with print disabilities can use to read Bookshare titles. Go Read searches for books based on title, author, etc., or gets the latest/popular books using the Bookshare API. Additionally Go Read downloads books from Bookshare’s collection using the Bookshare API. Bookshare has a rich collection of books, newspapers and magazines…

President’s Update - Spring 2012

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Telling the Benetech story better is crucial to our future: crucial to making the social change at scale that we consider the essence of innovation. It also helps with recruiting employees, volunteers, and donors!

In 2012, we’ll be rolling out new branding, new media, and new stories all with the goal of getting better at what we do and raising our impact.

However, the very first step we took was to ask our team to describe the core values that make us who we are. We asked “What is true about Benetech, what are the truths that define our identity, our culture, and the values that drive our work?” Rebranding is about telling our story better, not changing our core values. Our team articulately expressed direct, succinct truths that required no editing. They just worked!

This President’s Update isn’t about our latest news, not about our newest projects or accomplishments. Instead, I’d like to share with you the Seven Benetech Truths. I hope you find them as interesting and inspiring as…

There Are No Online Security Shortcuts for Human Rights

At Benetech, we're thinking about human rights activists everyday. We're not human rights advocates: we're a group of technologists and scientists dedicated to helping the human rights movement be safer and more effective. We prefer to work mainly behind the scenes, helping the activists pursue their mission of improving respect for human rights, advocating for policy change that advance rights and sometimes even obtaining justice against the perpetrators.
However, there are times where we need to weigh in on a technical issue that impacts human rights activists. Following an admiring Wired.com profile of the web-based chat program, Cryptocat, a fair amount of discussion ensued about the security risks of using a tool with this kind of web-based design. The relevant Wired.com editor responded with an endorsement for use by Middle Eastern dissidents of Hushmail, an online web mail site with a similar design.
The discussion, and this (to us) risky recommendation from a publ…