What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 133 Stack Exchange communities.

I am considering registering a domain name in nameoverflow.com format. Would doing so violate the trademark of stackoverflow.com/Stack Overflow Internet Services?

I ask because "overflow" can be a generic word. I will not use Stack Overflow-like design on my domain, nor will my site be a Stack Exchange site.

share|improve this question

migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 8 '10 at 18:51

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

1  
Ask a lawyer, not a programmer, because if you get sued, a posting on stackoverflow.com ain't holding up in court. –  Byron Whitlock Jul 8 '10 at 18:42
    
Asking on LawOverflow -- or my earlier suggestion, StatuatorilyNegligent -- on the other hand.... –  Pops Jul 8 '10 at 18:53

8 Answers 8

See

http://stackoverflow.com/legal/trademark-guidance

which is linked at the bottom of every page where it says "legal"

share|improve this answer

Get in touch with a lawyer that specializes in technology IP.

I understand that you don't want to reveal the exact domain you're looking at, but it really is a situation where the specific case has to be evaluated against the existing copyrights out there. So really, your question can only be answered through those private channels.

You can contact the Stack Overflow team directly (in confidence) by e-mailing team@stackoverflow.com.

share|improve this answer
2  
Good point about contacting them directly. –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 19:25

If using the word "overflow" in a domain name is breach of trademark, then my guess is Stack Overflow Internet Services breached many trademarks when creating superuser.com.

*not a lawyer

share|improve this answer

Like other answerers and commenters, I am not a lawyer.

That said, it's my understanding that you're generally protected from trademark infringement as long as

  • you're not trying to use the name to represent yourself as having affiliation with Stack Overflow Internet Services or any of its properties/holdings/&c.
  • your name isn't so similar to Stack Overflow that it's likely to be confused with Stack Overflow whether you intend for such confusion to happen or not
  • and/or you're covered by fair use.

As you say, the word "overflow" itself is too broad to be owned by Stack Overflow. In your case — fair notice, I edited your question for grammar, feel free to re-edit or comment if I accidentally changed your meaning as well — I'd think you're okay. It's similar to how we're still allowed to talk about fruits called apples and buy those fruits from Hoffman Apple Company even though there's a well-known electronics company named Apple.

share|improve this answer

Not being a lawyer, I can't say for sure. Common sense and a little bit of knowledge tell me that no, just using "overflow" as part of a domain name is going to be fine in any jurisdiction. Neither should the fact that the community here has started to use "....overflow.com" as a kind of meme have any additional effect on that.

It could become difficult though if the new name were used in the same domain as Stack Overflow (i.e. programming Q&A), and it is very close phonetically - say "HackOverflow" or "SmackOverflow"... you get the idea. I wouldn't do that, and look for something more original instead.

That said, asking the question here is probably not going to help you. We all can only offer speculation, and the owners of the site would be stupid to step up and say, "we don't know what you're planning to do but no, we will not sue you." The most definite information you will be able to get is in fact from a competent lawyer.

share|improve this answer
1  
Oh man, we need a "HackOverflow" now. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 8 '10 at 19:17
2  
@Bill and a "CrackOverflow" for black hat security questions. SmackOverflow is for boxing. –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 19:23
    
For what it's worth, if it were my own project, started in good faith without any overlap nor intention to attack SO on its home ground, I personally would either talk to them directly (as @Jon suggests), or go ahead trusting they won't be dicks and give me trouble even if they could. If it were closely related to programming Q&A, I would name it something else. –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 19:27
    
CrackOverflow and SmackOverflow sound like sites for crack and smack addicts... –  Byron Whitlock Jul 8 '10 at 20:20
3  
@Byron they could form a league of evil with WhackOverflow, the Q&A site for organized criminals. –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 20:30
    
@Pekka: I read wank overflow. –  perbert Jul 8 '10 at 20:37
1  
@perbert you have a perb... perverted mind! –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 20:44
3  
I can see it now... How would I go about bribing a law enforcement official in the western United States? - needs to be made community Wiki! How do you protect Heroin in shipping containers from floor-level moisture? - please be more specific. During which season? Which ocean? –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 20:45
3  
How to get bail for a foreigner in Manaus, Brasil? too localized. Jury blackmail - a dying art? - subjective and argumentative. –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 20:54
1  
@Pekka: "I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?" -Not a real question. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 8 '10 at 21:47
2  
@Bill the asker of that question will then turn up on Meta and protest the closing. –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 22:23
2  
@Pekka: The closers will need to be enrolled in the witness protection program. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 8 '10 at 23:34
    
@Bill ahahahahahaha! –  Pëkka Jul 9 '10 at 7:49

This is a nonsense question:

http://www.jokeoverflow.com/

http://www.dhloverflow.com/

http://www.campoverflow.com/

http://www.starshipoverflow.com/

http://www.repro-overflow.com/

http://heapoverflow.com/

To name but a few.

share|improve this answer
    
I dont see why this is being downvoted; at least one of the above domains was registered many years before stackoverflow –  DRL Jul 8 '10 at 23:29

I would say probably no (although IANAL obviously), but regardless, it's not terribly polite, if you're intending to riff off the Stack Overflow theme. You may want to think carefully about what your goals are, and who you may alienate in the process.

share|improve this answer
    
I don't think that's his goal. To me, it sounds like he has a generic "xyz-overflow" idea like the dozens that are concocted here in jest on a weekly basis ("I really need a dentistoverflow.com right now..") –  Pëkka Jul 8 '10 at 19:28

Since it is a legal question it is usually always difficult to answer without creating problems. As it was said before, this is trademark law, which among other things tries to prevent confusion of the consumers and allows undisturbed branding for the trademark owner.

trademarks are also limited to certain sectors of business. If you are in an unrelated sector than the trademark owner, it is more likely that you don't violate trademark law.

In any case, you could also contact the trademark owner and ask them for their objections. If they don't have any, you should be clear.

DISCLAIMER: IAAL, however nothing in the statements above constitutes legal advice, but is solely meant for the academic discussion of a legal concept. It is advisable that you contact a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction for concrete answers to your legal question!

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.