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I would like to put an inverted version of the Stack Overflow logo on a site with black background. Is this allowed?

The trademark guidance states:

Do not distort or alter our logo in any way.

And there is no inverted logo available for download. This suggests a "No".

However, the original design suggestion was presented with both white and black backgrounds.

So I am hoping for a "Yes".

What is the official answer?

  • I'd say you have given the answer yourself. If it's not officially available, it's not allowed. – Bart May 23 '13 at 13:02
  • Are you able to tell us what you plan to do with it? – halfer May 23 '13 at 13:03
  • We are building a a WordPress-widget that shows our clients threads on StackOverflow. - We want to do an inverted logo as it would make Stackoverflow more prominent from the overall design of the website. – Martin Nordlöf May 23 '13 at 13:17
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First off: I'm not an official representative, so my opinion is by no means a fact.

My opinion: the trademark guidance is intended to prevent usage of the logo that harms the brand or its recognizability. Just flipping the colors black and white for practical reasons - the logo wouldn't be readable otherwise - will never be considered a harmful action, it's not inherently changing it in any way. As such there should be no objection from a legal perspective to a minor alteration that is required from a design perspective, and a generally accepted way of doing so.

It's similar to using a Coca Cola jpeg on a white background with permission, and but stripping off the white background and saving it as a transparent PNG. Technically, you're altering pixels at the edges of the logo, but it doesn't harm it or change it to misrepresent the brand.

  • How do you know it's similar to using a cocoa cola jpeg? Are you a representative for them now? Haha, JK, +1. – Richard J. Ross III May 23 '13 at 13:09
  • I represent whoever I damn well want to! :P @Martin: thanks for accepting the answer, but my disclaimer still stands. Until Jeff publicly puts a +1 on it it's just the opinion of someone with a lot of experience in (online) legal stuff, but IANAL does apply ;) – Niels Keurentjes May 23 '13 at 15:21

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