Looking through the Trademark Guidance page, I am not entirely sure if it would be ok to use the Stack Overflow logo in a simple computer game I plan on developing.

The Stack Overflow logo (in the current design of the game I envision) will be used as some sort of collectible item to solve some puzzle within the game, but I might have to tweet it around to add some animations of some sort to indicate the state of the item in the game.

Is this allowed? If yes, what are the restrictions? Looking through the list I find two points (below) which might indicate that I can't use the logo

  • Do not use our logo unless you have been granted special permission by Stack Exchange Inc.
  • Do not distort or alter our logo in any way

As of now, I am still working on the design/storyboard and general idea behind the gameplay, but was wondering if using the logo would be plausible before hand.

  • 10
    I think Do not use our logo unless you have been granted special permission is pretty clear. Nov 7 '11 at 10:03
  • Well, there is such a thing as fair use. I'm not sure this would be covered by it, though.
    – Pekka
    Nov 7 '11 at 10:07
  • I'm going to say no, probably not, unless you get a special permit. This would/could include changing the colour, rotation, size/width, mirroring...but hey, you never know. And +1 for asking.
    – tombull89
    Nov 7 '11 at 10:08
  • @Asylum there is another clause in there that says Do use the most current logo where applicable and permitted so kinda leaves out room for question
    – omarello
    Nov 7 '11 at 11:09
  • @tombull89 yes there would be colour, rotation, size, changes etc.. but if that is the only restriction I could probably live with just using the logo as is. I guess getting a definitive answer would be by sending a support mail?
    – omarello
    Nov 7 '11 at 11:10
  • 1
    @omarello You could wait and see if you get an answer here (after all, it's only been an hour) or e-mail team@stackoverflow.com with a suitable subject. Bear in mind that this e-mail address gets a lot of mail (or so we are told) so it may take a while to get a response.
    – tombull89
    Nov 7 '11 at 11:13

Well, shucks... You've already found The Trademark Guidance Page. So I'm really not sure where the confusion comes in. I mean, there are some fairly detailed do / do not guidelines there, but even if you stopped reading after the third section you'd have seen:

So if you were making a product, and you used a Stack Exchange name or logo in your product (or in its advertising) in such a way that would mislead someone into thinking that your product was owned by, operated by, endorsed by, or in any way part of Stack Exchange Inc., you would be violating the trademark and this would not be legal.

...which is pretty clear on disallowing the use in situations where it might lead someone to think we had some connection to your product. After which you'd have read:

Our logo images and site names are copyrighted. Any content on the Stack Exchange Network not contributed by users is copyrighted. Copyright is different than trademark. Ordinarily you couldn't copy it. But if you were writing a news story or blog post about a Stack Exchange site, reproducing the logo image would almost certainly be considered "fair use" and allowed under trademark law because you were not using it "in trade."

...which I would think pretty much settles it: you're not writing about SE. You're not parodying SE, or really even talking or alluding to SE in any way - from the sound of things, if I'd never seen or heard of Stack Exchange and saw the logo in your game, I'd just assume you came up with it on your own...

Of course, if you read further, you'd have found this:

We generally do not permit use of our name or logo on merchandise.

  • Do contact Stack Exchange Inc. with a detailed proposal if you would like to request an exception.
  • Do not use the names or logos owned by Stack Exchange Inc. on any apparel or merchandise without our permission.

Normally, this refers to slapping the logo on tangible goods, but as a "collectible item" your in-game use is arguably a simulation of a physical piece of merch.

So... Don't use it. If you must, then ask first.

  • 1
    from the sound of things, if I'd never seen or heard of Stack Exchange and saw the logo in your game, I'd just assume you came up with it on your own --> Never thought of it this way, but makes a good point.
    – omarello
    Nov 7 '11 at 19:02

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