Elon Musk’s choice to rename Twitter as X, given his billionaire status, may face legal complexities due to existing intellectual property rights held by other companies such as Meta and Microsoft, which also utilize the same letter.
X, which is extensively utilized and referenced in trademarks, might be susceptible to legal disputes. The company previously known as Twitter could encounter difficulties while defending its X brand in the future.
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“There’s a 100% chance that Twitter is going to get sued over this by somebody,” said trademark attorney Josh Gerben, who said he counted nearly 900 active U.S. trademark registrations that already cover the letter X in a wide range of industries.
On Monday, Musk decided to rebrand the popular social media network Twitter, giving it a new name “X.” Additionally, he introduced a fresh logo for the platform, which features a stylized black-and-white version of the letter X.
Trademark owners, who have legal protection for elements like brand names, logos, and slogans that distinguish the origin of products, have the right to accuse others of infringement if a different branding could mislead consumers. The actions taken to address such infringements can include seeking financial compensation or preventing the unauthorized use of the protected elements.
Since 2003, Microsoft has possessed a trademark for the letter “X” concerning communications related to its Xbox video-game system. In contrast, Meta Platforms, the company behind the Threads platform, has its own federal trademark registered in 2019. This trademark encompasses a blue-and-white letter “X” and applies to various fields, including software and social media.
Gerben stated that Meta and Microsoft would probably not initiate legal action unless they perceive Twitter’s X as a potential threat to the reputation and value they have established for their brand.
The three companies did not respond to requests for comment.
Meta encountered legal issues related to intellectual property when it decided to rebrand from Facebook. The company faced trademark lawsuits from Metacapital, an investment firm, and MetaX, a virtual-reality company, both of which were filed last year. Additionally, Meta had to resolve another lawsuit concerning its new infinity-symbol logo.
And if Musk succeeds in changing the name, others still could claim ‘X’ for themselves.
“Given the difficulty in protecting a single letter, especially one as popular commercially as ‘X’, Twitter’s protection is likely to be confined to very similar graphics to their X logo,” said Douglas Masters, a trademark attorney at law firm Loeb & Loeb.
“The logo does not have much distinctive about it, so the protection will be very narrow.”
Earlier, there was a report stating that Meta possessed a trademark labeled as “X,” and a lawyer named Ed Timberlake tweeted that Microsoft also had a similar trademark.