Twitter rebranding: Has Twitter’s fate been sealed with a X?
Alice Gregory – 31 July 2023
Last Sunday, Elon Musk announced that Twitter would be rebranding under the new name X. Musk claimed that his goal is to turn Twitter into an ‘everything app’ like China’s WeChat, complete with banking capabilities. The rebrand includes a brand new, black-and-white ‘X’ logo, and x.com now redirects to the Twitter website. Though the site might now be much easier to type, it comes with a whole host of legal and logistical challenges for Elon Musk and co to figure out before all is said and done.
Police arriving at Twitter headquarters to halt the removal of the physical ‘twitter’ sign was the first of many hurdles Musk will likely face in this Xcapade. It has been reported that he did not have permission to use a crane in the street to take down the sign, so workers could only remove the ‘twitt’ before police arrived. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the digital rebrand to x.com has meant that many users are unable to access the site as x.com is blocked in the country due to its previous association with gambling and porn.
But Musk’s biggest legal challenge may well be found in securing the intellectual property rights to X. Firstly, there are close to 900 active trademark registrations for ‘X’ in the US alone, not to mention a host of other ‘X’ trademarks that exist globally. To take one example, Microsoft currently owns ‘X’ trademark rights relating to its Xbox games console. Twitter’s rival Meta also has rights to ‘X’ specifically for social networking services, which is perhaps the one most likely to clash with Musk’s own intended usage of the brand.
Helping clients create strong, recognisable and preferably unique brands and logos is the name of the game for trademark attorneys and IP lawyers in the US and UK alike, as it guarantees the best legal protection possible. The less generic and more distinctive the mark, the more likely it is to qualify for legal protection and exclusive rights to profit from it. Those who own trademarks can stop rival companies from copying them or using a similar mark, and can take legal action for infringement.
So, things might not be looking so great for Musk and X given the popularity of the letter and simplicity of the new logo. While we don’t know for sure whether Musk has already filed for the trademark, the situation leaves him vulnerable to lawsuits from other ‘X’ brands who could claim it affects their own established brand equity (i.e., value from the name).
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