Twitter’s new trademark owned by Meta, Microsoft, hundreds more


Billionaire Elon Musk’s recent decision to rebrand Twitter as X may encounter legal complexities, as other companies, such as Meta (META.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), already hold intellectual property rights to the same letter.

The letter “X” is extensively utilized and referenced in various trademarks, making it susceptible to potential legal disputes. Consequently, the company formerly known as Twitter could encounter challenges in safeguarding its X brand in the future.

“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, Elon Musk rebranded the social media network Twitter as “X” and revealed a new logo featuring a stylized black-and-white version of the letter.

Trademarks protect brand names, logos, and slogans that identify the sources of goods, and owners of such trademarks can claim infringement if other branding causes consumer confusion. Remedies for infringement can include monetary damages or blocking the use of the contested branding.

Since 2003, Microsoft has owned an X trademark related to communications about its Xbox video-game system. Meta Platforms, which has its Threads platform as a Twitter rival, also owns a federal trademark registered in 2019 that covers a blue-and-white letter “X” for fields like software and social media.

While Meta and Microsoft might not sue immediately, they could take legal action if they perceive Twitter’s X branding to encroach on the brand equity they have built around the letter, according to trademark attorney Josh Gerben.

Both Meta and Microsoft, along with Twitter, have not responded to requests for comment.

Meta itself faced intellectual property challenges when it changed its name from Facebook, including trademark lawsuits filed by investment firm Metacapital and virtual-reality company MetaX. Meta also settled another trademark dispute over its new infinity-symbol logo.

If Musk’s rebranding efforts succeed, other companies could potentially lay claim to the letter “X” for their own branding purposes.

“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.”

Insider reported earlier that Meta had an X trademark, and lawyer Ed Timberlake tweeted that Microsoft had one as well.


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