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

One lawyer said there is a “100 per cent” chance Twitter will get sued over changing its name to X.

Twitter is already facing a number of lawsuits following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company – and now its rebrand could see it facing even more.

The billionaire announced on Sunday that Twitter was being rebranded as X, unveiling a new logo for the social media platform, a stylised 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 have intellectual property rights to the same letter.

“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 US trademark registrations that already cover the letter X in a wide range of industries.

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

This can result in monetary damages being demanded to blocking the use of the brand name itself.

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

Meta and Microsoft likely would not sue unless they feel threatened that Twitter’s X encroaches on brand equity they built in the letter, Gerben said.

The three companies did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment. A Twitter press email account responded to a request for comment from Euronews with: “We’ll get back to you soon.” Until recently, all emails sent to Twitter’s press email address were replied to with a poop emoji.

Meta itself drew intellectual property challenges when it changed its name from Facebook. It faces trademark lawsuits filed last year by investment firm Metacapital and virtual-reality company MetaX, and settled another over its new infinity-symbol logo.

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.”

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2023-07-25 09:07:46

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