44

So I've been looking around the communities Meta StackOverflow and Meta StackExchange, but wasn't able to find something that I think directly answers my concern. I've made a simple design that is based on the StackOverflow logo, and currently planning to have it printed. It's a spoof/parody design, a just-for-fun shirt, if you will.

But as I've looked around the communities, I've found this post and whole lot more similar to it, where it mentions about the copyright or trademark guidance, where it is not allowed to use the logo without any official permission of some sort.

The shirt will be for personal use and will only be printed for a specific number shirts (team-wide quantity) and will never be printed and distributed for commercial use in any way.

With all that said, I was wondering if someone can shed some light with regards to this. I highly respect the StackOverflow community and would like to avoid breaking any sort of rules.

Here's the design by the way:

enter image description here

I don't know if it's obvious or not, but even the font used is different. I just downloaded a free font online.


For those who are wondering, here's a picture of the shirt. It turned out quite nice. :D

  • 12
  • 2
    Since it's similar enough, guess you need the permission of the company. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jun 8 '16 at 9:52
  • 5
    @ShadowWizard: You kind of don't need anyone's permission for parodies. That's the point of them, usually. (Even if you make money off the parody directly, usually, although things get a bit murkier in that case.) – Nathan Tuggy Jun 8 '16 at 10:21
  • 1
    @Nathan well, not familiar with it, the cases I heard about when parody makers were sued in court were only when they offended the people/product too much. Very recent example is a local media advertisement showing a man falling of a Segway that led to Segway sueing the company (sorry didn't find any English version). While the parody wasn't specific against the product, think it's similar enough to this case here, which might offend SE in some way. (Hard to believe, but who knows? :)) – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jun 8 '16 at 10:44
  • 2
    @ShadowWizard: Not sure what jurisdiction that's in, but in the US I find it difficult to believe they'd get very far. (And half a million isn't much for a corporate suit, so I don't know what their deal is.) – Nathan Tuggy Jun 8 '16 at 11:12
  • 6
    Can I have one of those T-Shirts ? :-) – JonasCz Jun 8 '16 at 14:12
  • 4
    I've already registered the domain, the trademark, and I'm selling the design on shopify now. – Won't Jun 8 '16 at 14:54
  • Hey guys, thanks for your comments. But I still feel that this is still in grey area of being okay or not. Was hoping that maybe an admin/moderator would also see this and comment. – AL. Jun 8 '16 at 23:34
  • 2
    Why would this be an issue at all? You aren't using the words "stack" or "overflow". You even say that the font is different. – pacoverflow Jun 9 '16 at 17:26
  • Hey @pacoverflow The staffoverworked I think is fine too. But I was unsure with the logo. – AL. Jun 10 '16 at 1:24
26

We responded to your inquiry via email as well, but to close the loop on this question: SO Inc is fine with (and pleasantly amused by) this parody.

  • 1
    I've seen the reply. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I highly appreciate it. :D Best regards to the whole SO Team. :D – AL. Jun 21 '16 at 22:36
30
+50

While I wouldn't suggest that parody goes as far as vandalism, Jeff seems to have indicated that "vandalizing the logo" is fair use:

I really don't think you need permission to use the logo in a blog posting about the site. Do you need permission from Wal-Mart to write a blog entry about them and use their logo illustrating it? Even if you vandalize the logo, it's protected speech and fair use.

As long as you don't try to pass off those shirts as being Stack Overflow (who confuses a shirt with a Q&A site anyway?), you should be fine:

It is a trademark. The purpose of trademark law is to prevent consumers from being misled as to the origin of a product. So if you were making a product, and you used the name Stack Overflow or the Stack Overflow logo in your product or its advertising, in such a way that would mislead some consumers into thinking that your product was Stack Overflow, you would be violating the trademark and this would not be legal.

link

After all, you're not engaging in trade, you're just making some shirts for fun. You're also not trying to pass them off as being endorsed/created by Stack Overflow, so your linked question does not apply, as far as I can tell.

See also the Wikipedia link which Bart provided in the comments.

  • 8
    It is nice to see anybody supporting or encouraging fair use. Bravo Overflowians. – chicks Jun 8 '16 at 18:07
  • 1
    Hey Laurel. I really appreciate this answer. Currently, I am sooo hoping that this is okay. But I'm gonna wait for a few more days. Hoping an admin/moderator might also comment on it. Cheers! – AL. Jun 9 '16 at 2:32
  • 1
    I think this sums it up pretty nicely. I also do not see any issue with using a play on the logo as you have done. Heck, I have several authentic StackOverflow shirts, and no one seems to recognize it anyway when I wear them. – Travis J Jun 15 '16 at 21:32
  • 1
    Okay. So I think I've waited for an ample amount of time, to see if there will be others (was hoping for a moderator, but maybe one of the 250+ viewers is one of 'em, and they just upvoted this answer since it's already ok) that would like to comment/answer my question. So I accepted this and provided the bounty. Thanks all. Cheers! :D (I'd try to post a picture of the shirt when it's done) :) – AL. Jun 19 '16 at 23:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .