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Can I haz non-logo icons from the site(s)?

I'm designing an app and my plan, assuming it pleases the court, is to use some of the icons/look-and-feel from the site.

For example:

  • The green and red boxes with rep (this is really more look-and-feel)
  • The Favorite star, The "Accepted" green checkmark (right off the site)
  • Badge dots (ellipses with the exact color)

I assume these types of things are not actually copyrighted but want to be sure I'm not angering the StackExchange Pantheon :)

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+1 for a really good and important question - would give another +1 for coining the Stack Exchange Pantheon, if possible ;) –  Steffen Opel Jul 2 '10 at 20:34
    
++ good question. –  Sky Sanders Jul 22 '10 at 18:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Refer to our legal section on Trademarks.

Design of Your Product

  • Do design your product with unique branding and logos.
  • Do feel free to use names or logos for the purpose of labeling our sites within your product, as long as use of such logos could not be confused with the branding or endorsement of the product itself.
  • Do not copy the look and feel of our products.
  • Do not include elements of our network that are not user-contributed content (i.e. no copyright material).
  • Do not use our name, logo, or service to promote or allow fraudulent, abusive, or otherwise illegal activities.

If your [app] looks enough like one of our sites to confuse a reasonable user, you've crossed the line. All image files on the site are copyrighted, unless sourced from somewhere outside the network (ie. in questions/answers), so I wouldn't just lift those.

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Good question! Can I add a couple things?

  • The envelope that changes color
  • The ability to address comments to people by prepending '@'
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2  
"@" comments/replies/mentions were already popular on Twitter before SO picked it up, and probably came from somewhere else before that. I'm sure that feature is free to imitate. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 1 '10 at 15:58
    
@Bill: Very true... forgot about that. –  Nathan Osman Jul 1 '10 at 18:33

Of course you all know that I am not affiliated with SO in anyway and have no authority to make any statements regarding any trademark legalities.

With that said, let me go ahead and say something anyway.

Joel has stated, in other questions regarding trademarks

and

I am going to take a swing at interpreting this in the context of your question and then see how it all shakes out.

My Opinion

I would guess that re-using non-branded UI elements will be acceptable as long as the use does not contribute to an effort to mimic an SE site's 'look and feel' so as to confuse any reasonable person as to the origin of the application.

<dramatics> I will also assert, publicly, that the minute someone with the authority to do so, states that the use of a bullet using the same colors as on SE sites is a trademark infringment is the minute I never visit another SE site or push a single bit that has anything to do with the API.</dramatics>

of course, i only say that because i know it is just silly and will never happen. I still have way to much faith and respect for the upper echelon of the SO team

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