Twitter said bye to the birds and the blues and hello to a black-and-white X this week, a jarring switch for users but a typical sight for the platform's owner Elon Musk.
Musk has long been a fan of the letter X: Since the 1999 launch of his online banking platform X.com — now known as PayPal — there's been SpaceX, Tesla's Model X vehicle and the birth of his son, X Æ A-Xii. After purchasing Twitter, he merged it into X Corp., a new subsidiary company of his X Holdings Corp., and just about two weeks ago, he launched his artificial intelligence company, xAI Corp.
Although X has marked the spot for years in Musk's world, the overnight rebranding came as a shock — not just for users but for other companies, too.
Nearly 900 U.S. companies have active trademark registrations involving the letter X, trademark attorney Josh Gerben told Reuters, including Meta and Microsoft. This could pose legal challenges if another company accuses Musk's X of infringing upon their intellectual property.
"There's a 100% chance that Twitter is going to get sued over this by somebody," Gerben said.
Trademark owners can claim infringement if another use of their mark could cause confusion. Most trademark lawsuits occur in federal court and can end with the infringer facing fines or being blocked from using the mark.
Microsoft's X trademark has stood since 2003 and covers video game-related systems. Meta's trademark of a blue-and-white "X" covers software and social media fields.
Despite these, Gerben said Meta and Microsoft wouldn't likely sue unless they feel Musk's X encroaches on their brand equity.
Another trademark attorney, Douglas Masters, told Reuters, "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. The logo does not have much distinctive about it, so the protection will be very narrow."
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