Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Twitter’s Rebranding as X Faces Legal Complications as Meta, Microsoft, and Others Own Similar Trademarks

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  • Twitter rebrands as X, but faces potential legal challenges as other companies, including Meta and Microsoft, already hold trademarks for the letter “X”.
  • Nearly 900 active U.S. trademark registrations already cover the letter “X” in various industries.
  • Microsoft owns an “X” trademark related to communications for its Xbox video game system, and Meta Platforms owns a trademark for a blue-and-white letter “X” in software and social media.
  • Twitter might face lawsuits over potential infringement of existing “X” trademarks.
  • Legal experts suggest Twitter’s protection for the new X logo may be limited, and it may need to defend its brand against potential challenges in the future.

Billionaire Elon Musk’s recent decision to rename Twitter as X could lead to legal challenges, as companies like Meta and Microsoft already hold intellectual property rights to the letter “X.” With nearly 900 active U.S. trademark registrations covering the letter in various industries, trademark attorney Josh Gerben predicts that Twitter is likely to face lawsuits over the rebranding.

On Monday, Musk unveiled a new logo for the social media platform, featuring a stylized black-and-white version of the letter “X.” However, this move could create confusion among consumers, leading to potential infringement claims from companies like Microsoft, which has owned the “X” trademark related to its Xbox video game system since 2003. Similarly, Meta Platforms, which introduced the Threads platform as a Twitter rival, holds a federal trademark registered in 2019 for a blue-and-white letter “X” in software and social media fields.

While Meta and Microsoft may not take legal action unless they perceive a threat to their brand equity, they have yet to respond to requests for comment. Notably, Meta faced its own intellectual property challenges when it changed its name from Facebook and currently deals with trademark lawsuits from investment firm Metacapital and virtual-reality company MetaX.

Moreover, if Twitter proceeds with the rebranding, other entities may also lay claim to the letter “X.” The difficulty of protecting a single letter like “X,” given its commercial popularity, might limit Twitter’s protection to very similar graphics in their logo, according to trademark attorney Douglas Masters of Loeb & Loeb law firm.

As this situation unfolds, Twitter’s rebranding efforts may face legal hurdles, and its protection of the “X” logo could be restricted due to its lack of distinctiveness.

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Ethan Rivers
Ethan Rivers
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