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Salesforce chief gave Steve Jobs “App Store” trademark as token of appreciation

Salsesforce chief executive Marc Benioff revealed this week that he handed over his firm's “App Store” trademark to Apple as a way of thanking co-founder Steve Jobs for personal insight and support over the years.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Benioff said he has on multiple occasions turned to Jobs for professional guidance, specifically recounting a particular event from 2003 when he took members of his executive team to see the iconic Apple leader. The feedback received during that meeting motivated Benioff to focus on building an ecosystem for Salesforce’s “fantastic enterprise application,” which is how Jobs described it.

That “ecosystem” became an app store itself known as the Salesforce App Exchange. However, its creators had originally registered the "App Store" URL and trademarked the phrase, before deciding to settle on App Exchange instead.

Benioff was in the audience in 2008 when Jobs introduced Apple's own App Store to analysts and members of the media. At the end of the presentation, he walked up to Jobs and told him: “I’m gonna [sic] give you the trademark and the URL because of the help you gave me in 2003.”

“He has probably given me more help and more advice than just about anybody," Benioff said of Jobs. "And when I get in trouble and I kinda [sic] get lost in my own vision, I’ve been fortunate to be able to go and see him and he’s been willing to show me the future a couple times.”

When asked about Apple’s future without Jobs, Benioff said he believes that the company can stay on top “for quite some time” even after losing “the best CEO in the world,” which is what he considers Jobs to be.

Apple’s App Store concept became a critical component of Apple’s mobile ecosystem. The digital download store offers a large inventory of free and paid applications which can be installed and run on iOS devices such as iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. As of May 2011 Apple approved over 500,000 apps, which have been downloaded over 15 billion times by over 200 million iOS users.

The Cupertino-based company's competitors have also embarked on similar initiatives as part of their smartphone environments. Google owns the second most popular application store, the Android Market, and companies like Microsoft, Nokia, RIM and Amazon operate the Windows Phone Marketplace, the Ovi Store, the BlackBerry App World and the Appstore, respectively.

The latter, an online application distribution system for Android devices, sparked tensions between Apple and Amazon due to the similarities between the names of these two digital stores.

Microsoft has also voiced concerns against the “App Store” trademark for being too generic. The software maker has filed objections to the mark in both in the USA and European Union, where it was backed by various handset makers including HTC, Nokia, or Sony Ericsson.