I've been perusing questing regarding the use of the Stack Overflow icon, but I'm a bit stumped on this one. I am designing a business card, and I want to put logos of all the sites I am connected on (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Stack Overflow). However, I do not have a clear idea if this falls under the guidelines.

(broken link to example business card: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3618086/card_example.png)

Could someone clear this up for me? Thanks!


Within the Trademark Guidance, probably not:

Promoting your own Account

  • Do feel free to use your profile "Flair" to reference or link to your user account. Use of unaltered logos in the context of displaying the entire content of User Flair is generally okay.
  • Do use the same guidelines as "Advertising" when promoting your own account.

Use of Our Name or Logo in Advertising

  • Do not use our logo unless you have been granted special permission by Stack Exchange Inc.

Assuming no one official replies, you can email team@stackexchange.com to request special permission.

You'll notice that other sites specifically grant you this permission but with certain conditions attached, and SE may ask that you adhere to similar conditions. For example, Twitter requires that you also include your username.

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    If a contributor has donated sufficient time in taking the site forward why can't he use this. After the logo he can write Profile and give the reference to his profile Flair. – Pankaj Upadhyay Sep 21 '11 at 5:24
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    @PankajUpadhyay Because that's not how trademarks/copyright work. Using something a lot doesn't give you the legal right to use trademarked logos associated with that something. Asking for an explicit permission is always the safest approach to something like this. – Adam Lear Sep 21 '11 at 15:22
  • @AnnaLear , I take your point about explicit permission, but would like to oppose on one point. You said USING SOMETHING, here it's not like that, it's CONTRIBUTING. I don't see SO anywhere without the great users and moderators. This makes a hell lot difference. One should be allowed to use the SO Logo in congestion with Profile link. And that's how thing should be. We use Google Logo, facebook, LinkedIn logo everywhere to show our profiles but that doesn't mean we are making illegal use of trademark and copyright content – Pankaj Upadhyay Sep 21 '11 at 17:27
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    @PankajUpadhyay You're confusing "it should be this way" with "it is this way". I agree that using a logo for the purposes of linking to an account should be okay, but we don't know that for certain and the current phrasing that waiwai933 quoted suggests that's not the case. Merely being a long-term contributor does not grant you legal rights to SE's logos. (Google, FB, LinkedIn, etc. may have different terms.) – Adam Lear Sep 21 '11 at 17:42
  • hmm....may be, the things are not that certain. – Pankaj Upadhyay Sep 21 '11 at 17:45
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    The important part, as noted in the trademark guidance, is this line: "Do not use our name or logo in a way that might imply a false sense of partnership or endorsement with your product." – NT3RP Oct 1 '11 at 4:31

If in doubt, always look for the copyright-notes.

Showing where to look

Copyright of the logo goes to SE, no further mention of a license therefor they own the logo and it's a no touchy thing.

On another note, putting logos of sites you're just user of (and not affiliated with, you got the wrong wording there) on your business card has the potential to be misleading.

Edit: Looking at your edit and the business card sample I have to question the idea of this. While it makes a whole lot of sense for an electronic card (with links on the logos) it's odd and misleading on a printed one. The people looking at the card won't even be able to figure out what those logos mean, much less finding your account there. It would make more sense including small, Flair-like boxes...but they will be out of sync very fast and also will provide only very little information.

As a simple thought, create an online version with links and popups and all that fancy stuff...and print the address of that online version on the backside of your (plain) printed version.

  • Valid point regarding your edit. Even so, the original question still stands. – NT3RP Sep 21 '11 at 12:51
  • As far as I concerned, the answer of waiwai cuts it. It's copyrighted work with no license attached, therefor get written permission form the authors. – Time Traveling Bobby Sep 21 '11 at 13:01

Is it possible?


Does it infringe the trademark or copyright of Stack Exchange?


How do I get permission?

Email the team (email at bottom of every page on every stack exchange website).

Will I be sued if I use it without express permission?

Unlikely. They are required to actively protect their trademark in order to keep it, and so 1) if they come across the business card and 2) it doesn't get lost on the way to the lawyer, they will have to respond, either by 3) retroactively giving you permission, or 4) sending a letter asking you to discontinue your usage of their trademark.

Whether they would go so far as to start a lawsuit depends on a variety of factors unknown to me. But the chances of all four points above lining up just right and them deciding to take you to court seems small to me.

If I am sued, will it hurt?

Probably. That's the point of a lawsuit - make it painful enough that no one else will follow your footsteps.

What would you do, were you in my shoes?

I'd follow the maxim, "better to ask forgiveness than permission."

Whatever that means.

This is not legal advice. I'm not a lawyer. Asking legal questions on stack exchange causes me to chortle.

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    Huh, your "breaks the law, but is not illegal" is a strange notion. For my understanding, breaking the law is about the definition of "illegal", even if something is not a crime. – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 21 '11 at 15:03
  • Arrrrr...I'd follow the maxim, "better to ask forgiveness than permission.", that can burn you very deep in Copyright/IP matters. – Time Traveling Bobby Sep 21 '11 at 15:11
  • @Paŭlo Ah, yes, redacted. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Sep 21 '11 at 23:36
  • @Padded Very, very deeply. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Sep 21 '11 at 23:37
  • As an aside, I'm pretty sure that they will not approve of this usage of their logo. But if enough people ask about it, they might allow it and come up with some guidelines for doing so. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Sep 21 '11 at 23:50

Having seen your example, I would think this is not a really good idea - you just put a row of logos. This does not really help the people who want to contact you (or know something about you). Better use each logo together with the user name or URL:

twitter user name

Of course, this does not answer if it is legal this way, but I suppose in this way the use of the logo could be easier accepted than if you would only put the logos. (At least for Twitter, this is the case.)

  • Great advice Paŭlo (apparently I still have some work to do on the cards), but at the same time, I would still need to know if usage of the logo is OK in this case :) – NT3RP Sep 21 '11 at 12:57
  • Yeah, here we'll have to wait until someone from the team will answer. I added the link to the relevant Twitter page, though. – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 21 '11 at 15:08
  • Not an answer to the right question, but a good answer to a question... +1 – Nicole Sep 21 '11 at 23:52

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