What is the copyright of the MathOverflow logo? Is it in the public domain? In this site they say that "most simple logos simply do not have the required level of creativity to be considered copyrightable", so I imagine that to be the case for the MO logo as well.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that regardless of the copyright status, you would likely have to consider trademark law before you could do anything "interesting" with the logo. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Mar 10, 2018 at 23:55
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    $\begingroup$ I imagine that it's owned by the MO corporation meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/969/who-owns-mathoverflow/… . If you have a specific reason for asking you may wish to write to board@mathoverflow.net . $\endgroup$
    – j.c.
    Mar 12, 2018 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ It would be good to get an official answer to this. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2018 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


There is neither an officially claimed copyright or trademark on the MathOverflow icons or logos. That said, we would really like anyone who intends to use it to explain their proposed use (here on meta is fine), and obtain the approval of the community (and potentially the board) first.

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    $\begingroup$ Would the board care to state a license (preferably an existing, lawyered-up one) that would apply to the logo? Or is it for the time being "All rights reserved, but we're happy to discuss potential uses"? $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 3:39
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    $\begingroup$ Note that copyright does not have to be "claimed". The way the law works, the creator has copyright automatically, unless he explicitly releases the work into public domain (and the latter is only possible in certain jurisdictions; otherwise, the best possible is to release it with an all-permissive licence). It is possible, as stated in the question, that the logo is too trivial to be eligible for copyright, but I guess this is a hazy area and depends on legal opinion. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 6:52
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    $\begingroup$ Same for trademarks in the US; they don't need any official registration (though registration is available). That said, a trademark for MO would only prevent the logo to be used by someone in the same market. (For example, it would probably still be fine for a plumber named Mathew to operate under the name MathOverflow.) $\endgroup$ Mar 17, 2018 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts As far as legalese, section 2 of stackexchange.com/legal applies; MathOverflow, Inc, is one of the "third parties". As far as I can tell, there is no reason to license the MO logo. I guess we could allow other parties to use our trademark, but that sounds strange to me. $\endgroup$ Mar 17, 2018 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais well, licensed merchandise, for instance, not that there's a huge market for that. I guess you mean section 2. Network Content for the points of relevance to the OP. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2018 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ It is arguable that the name "MathOverflow" is trademark under common law, at least in the US. Online/international enforcability is difficult, IANAL. (I only point this out as the more recent question meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/4117/… saw this answer as an argument as to why 'MathOverflow' is not trademarked and wanted to use the mathoverflow name as a domain name for a similar website.) $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2019 at 1:50

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