Elon Musk’s Twitter rebrand: Meta and Microsoft already own the IP rights to the letter ‘X’

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solo3 August 2023Last Update : 2 months ago
Elon Musk’s Twitter rebrand: Meta and Microsoft already own the IP rights to the letter ‘X’

A lawyer said there is a “hundred percent” chance that Twitter will be sued for changing its name to X.

Twitter is already facing several lawsuits following the company’s acquisition by Elon Musk — and now its rebrand could lead to even more.

The billionaire unveiled a new logo for the social media platform on Sunday, announcing that Twitter is being rebranded as X, a stylish black and white version of the letter.

According to experts, this rebrand could be legally complicated as other tech giants such as Meta and Microsoft already own the intellectual property rights to the same letter.

“There’s a 100% chance that Twitter will be sued by someone over this,” said trademark attorney Josh Gerben, who said he counted about 900 active US trademark registrations that already cover the letter X across a wide range of industries.

Owners of trademarks — which protect things like brand names, logos and slogans that identify the sources of goods — can sue, claiming infringement, if other branding causes consumer confusion.

This may result in a demand for monetary damages to stop the use of the brand name.

Microsoft has owned an X trademark since 2003, relating to communications regarding its Xbox gaming system. Meta Platforms – whose Threads platform is a new Twitter rival – owns a federal trademark registered in 2019 covering the blue and white letter X for areas including software and social media.

Gerben said that Meta and Microsoft will not sue unless they feel threatened that Twitter’s X is encroaching on the brand equity they created in the letter.

All three companies did not respond to Reuters requests for comment. A Twitter press email account responded to Euronews’ request for comment, saying: “We will be in touch with you shortly.” Until recently, all emails sent to Twitter’s press email address were replied to with the poop emoji.

When Meta changed its name from Facebook, it faced intellectual property challenges of its own. It is facing trademark lawsuits filed last year by investment firm MetaCapital and virtual-reality company MetaX, and another settlement has been reached over its new infinity-symbol logo.

If Musk is successful in changing the name, others can still claim X for themselves.

“Given the difficulty of protecting a single letter, especially a commercially popular letter like ‘X’, Twitter’s protection is likely to be limited to graphics similar to their X logo,” said Douglas Masters, a trademark attorney at the law firm Loeb & Loeb.

“There’s nothing very specific about it in the logo, so the protection will be very narrow.”

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