Elon Musk recently introduced a new brand identity to replace Twitter, which featured a stylized black-and-white themed X. However, there are potential legal challenges, as both Meta and Microsoft hold trademark rights associated with the letter X.
Legal Battle for X – Who Will Come Out Victorious?
Last week, Elon Musk made a significant move by rebranding Twitter, the popular social networking service, to X. This announcement sparked discussion among the platform’s user community and the media.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
For some, this signified a major shift that could start an era of rapid growth and innovation for the stagnating platform. On the other hand, most onlookers are critical of the decision, worrying that Musk is making too many drastic changes too fast. The focus has been on the loss of Twitter’s iconic blue bird branding, which has been at the core of the platform since it was launched but that isn’t the only problem Musk has run into in the rebrand.
The platform may face intellectual property and trademark lawsuits for using the letter X as its brand in the coming days.
The Independent reported that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Meta and a close rival to Elon Musk, owns a trademark for a blue-and-white X associated with social media platforms for entertainment, application development, and gaming.
Microsoft has also trademarked the letter X for its gaming services, particularly that of its popular “Xbox” video game devices and consoles.
Offering insights into the situation, Matthew Harris, TM lawyer at Pinsent Masons, explained that the primary purpose of trademark registration is to secure an exclusive right to the registered brand.
Harris also explained that it might be difficult for Musk to obtain full rights to the X brand without crossing paths with Meta and Microsoft, who have already established similar identities.
Another trademark lawyer, Josh Gerben, told Reuters in an interview that there is a high chance Musk get sued over the X brand. He revealed that nearly 900 active companies in the U.S. have registered the letter X as a brand identity.
Both trademark lawyers opined that a lawsuit against the X social networking services may be imminent, potentially leading to substantial monetary penalties amounting to millions of dollars.
However, because X is just a letter, Musk may get away with it because its so basic that it may not be possible to win a copyright claim over.
Copyright Lawsuits Wouldn’t Be the First New Legal Battles For Twitter Under Elon Musk
Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter in October 2022 for $44 billion, the company has faced significant legal disputes that have garnered attention in the news.
One of the prominent issues emerged when up to 3,000 staffers were laid off following the tech billionaire’s takeover.
Former employees alleged that Twitter failed to fulfill its promised severance packages, leading to a class action lawsuit on December 7th, 2022. The lawsuit demanded up to $500 million in damages.
Former employees of Twitter have reportedly filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk and Twitter, claiming the company failed to pay their promised severance packages.
The suit seeks damages of at least $500 million as well as orders compelling Twitter and Musk to abide by all terms of… pic.twitter.com/m5naDsslpR
— Pop Base (@PopBase) July 12, 2023
On December 12th, 2022, Twitter faced another legal challenge as private jet company Seabrook filed a case against the platform.
The suit accused Twitter of refusing to pay a transport fee that totaled over $190K for a flight that transported the company’s former chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland.
In May 2023, an Australian infrastructure company filed a suit against the platform after allegedly failing to pay over $600,000 in work bills for offices in multiple countries.
Shortly after, Twitter faced another legal challenge related to copyright infringement. On June 15th, a group of music publishers filed a copyright infringement lawsuit seeking up to $250 million in damages.
The legal documents accused Twitter of enabling users to post audio and video clips with copyrighted music, claiming that more than 1,600 songs’ copyrights were infringed.
Some notable songs mentioned in the complaint include Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars.
On July 3rd, a proposed class action accused the company of refusing to pay a total of 891 arbitration cases filed by former employees who were laid off or quit after Musk’s acquisition.
A proposed class action filed on July 3 claims Twitter has blocked at least 891 cases from proceeding by not paying initial arbitration fees, despite requiring laid-off workers to sign agreements to arbitrate legal disputes in exchange for severance pay https://t.co/Iwgi4iWC5p pic.twitter.com/nl6WlfZYsM
— Reuters Legal (@ReutersLegal) July 5, 2023
After a few days, it was yet again another development of legal actions; this time, Twitter pointed the arrow bow.
On July 7th, Twitter’s parent company X Corp. filed a suit in the California Superior Court in San Francisco against the elite law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, & Katz.
Elon Musk's X Corp Sues Law Firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz Over Twitter Buyout Fee
— The Parallel Facts (@ParallelFacts) July 8, 2023
Following the launch of Meta’s rival app on July 5th, Threads, Twitter reportedly threatened to sue Meta over a “copycat” app build.
In response to the alleged imitation, Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, reportedly sent Zuckerberg a “cease-and-desist” warning letter on July 7th.
The letter highlighted Threads’ alleged copycat behavior, misuse of Twitter’s “trade secrets and other intellectual property,” and recruitment of the company’s ex-staff.
As concerns over Meta and Microsoft’s potential trademark lawsuit against Twitter looms, the coming days will likely bring much-needed clarity on whether X will face another legal case.
- Twitter’s X Rebrand Was Haphazardly Accelerated – It Didn’t Get IP Rights for X & Owner of @X on Twitter Wasn’t Contacted
- Even TikTok is a Twitter Competitor Now as It Adds Text Post Support
- Elon Musk Says His AI Startup x.AI Will Be A Completely Unbiased Champion of Transparency – Is This a Good Idea?
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