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Now, this might be one of those semantic details that isn't enforced, but Apple explicitly states in their Copyright and Trademark Guidelines that

8. Slogans and Taglines: You may not use or imitate an Apple slogan or tagline.

They even provide an example:

For example: “Think different.”

It seems to me like "Ask Different" is against these rules. Now, it is very likely Apple won't enforce this, and they most likely don't care, but I just thought it was something notable to bring up.

Also, you can find Apple's Copyright and Trademark Guidelines here.

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It seems to me like "Ask Different" is against these rules.

Its not for three reasons:

  1. Apple doesn’t hold the trademark on the slogan/phrase “Ask Different.” Their phrase, as you have noted is “Think Different.”
  2. Apple only limits the use where disparaging

    Disparaging Manner: You may not use an Apple trademark or any other Apple-owned graphic symbol, logo, or icon in a disparaging manner

  3. Fair Use doctrine allows use of trademarked items (regardless of their T&Cs) to criticize, comment, or parody. This site is filled with criticisms and comments about Apple Products.

If you want an excellent example of this, look at the “Hackintosh” community. Per Apple’s own guidelines, you are prevented from using “Variations, takeoffs or abbrieviations of their name, products, slogans, etc”

Variations, Takeoffs or Abbreviations: You may not use an image of a real apple or other variation of the Apple logo for any purpose. Third parties cannot use a variation, phonetic equivalent, foreign language equivalent, takeoff, or abbreviation of an Apple trademark for any purpose. For example:

Not acceptable: Appletree Jackintosh Apple Cart iPodMart

If that were truly the case and enforceable, the Hackintosh community would have been gone a long, long, time ago.

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. I don’t play one on TV or any streaming service. Nothing here should be construed as legal advise. It is only my opinion on this matter.

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  • Yes, good point. Having seen it in that way, it makes more sense. After reading your answer, I went back and read the original document and I noticed that it also says "Web sites that serve only as noncommercial electronic informational forums concerning an Apple product or technology may use the appropriate Apple word mark, provided such use complies with the guidelines set forth in Section 3 above." Which I would say this site definitely meets. – applemonkey496 May 3 at 18:51
  • Excellent! I didn't see that, but, from a free use standpoint, its like saying “you are allowed to do what is already legal.” – Allan May 3 at 18:55
  • Yes, I suppose they need not have really included that in the first place because it would already be allowed. Apple wouldn't be able to legally say that's not allowed anyways. – applemonkey496 May 3 at 18:57
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    Lawyers like to say things in a way that makes you think they’re being generous by giving you something you already had rights to. +1 for the question! – Allan May 3 at 19:02
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    I love the wording. I am not a lawyer and I certainly am not your lawyer. – bmike May 3 at 19:26
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Sometimes questions send you on a trip into the past, this definitively is one of them, so thanks for that. The topic of trademarks has come up when the name was intially choosen, the discussion is reflected in the posts and comments on various metea questions and blog post. Looking through these discussions (and the other names which got proposed) makes for an interesting read.


While not directly related to the question, the very first meta post actually was What is the difference between [mac] and [apple]?. We still don't have an apple tag (and don't need one) but as of "right now" has been used in 4364 questions, (which replaced ) in 24538.

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On a practical manner, our collective lawyers are the SE lawyers so unless we want to agitate and organize to rename the site in absence of a legal threat or directive, we all could find a lawyer to advise us.

I done see any need for that and plan to personally keep on keeping on with what we do best.

  • Ask, answer, edit, vote and collaborate.

As long as I feel I am doing more good than harm here, no matter what name is on the banner I’m happy.

This place is so much more than a URL and some HTML and some code that gets delivered to our devices.

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