Could Microsoft's 'X' Trademark Prevent Musk from Creating X Merchandise After Twitter Rebrand?
Elon Musk's transformation of Twitter to X, in an effort to create an all-in-one site that includes social media, messaging, payments, and more, is just about complete. If you are a mobile Twitter user, you probably noticed that the app is now called "X" on your phone, and the icon is now the black-and-white X logo.
Musk, always one to embrace the marketing side of business ownership, as evidenced by Tesla and SpaceX campaigns of the recent past, will surely want to advertise X. But, thanks to one major trademark hiccup, it might not be so easy.
Microsoft owns the trademark for "X."
Microsoft owns the trademark for X. This is just too good. pic.twitter.com/eC6IHYiKGq
— Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) July 24, 2023
According to The Verge, Microsoft has owned the trademark for an "X" logo since 2003, primarily for Xbox video game consoles. The trademark apparently specifies that the mark's purpose is "providing online chat rooms for transmission of messages among computer users concerning video and computer games," coincidentally similar to what a modern social network does.
Oh, also, Meta, owned by Musk's rival Mark Zuckerberg, has a registered trademark on an "X" logo after acquiring the Mixer streaming application in 2020.
Facebook/Meta owns the trademark for "X" for use in social networking.
— LeGate 𝕏 (@williamlegate) July 24, 2023
Now, before anyone thinks that Musk will have to abandon his marketing ways, there's a good chance that the ubiquity of an "X" will still make it hard to enforce either of these trademarks should Musk decide to start selling X merchandise.
"In a crowded field with lots of 'X' trademarks, it will be difficult to enforce against others," Alexandra Roberts, a professor of law and media at Northeastern University, told The Verge. "The argument that will enable Twitter/Musk to get protection for the mark will be the same argument that impedes aggressive enforcement."
Someone else who holds a trademark for "X" might try to squeeze some money out of Musk, but one trademark attorney told Fudzilla that Meta and Microsoft would likely only go after Musk/X if they feel that the new X brand "encroaches on Brande equity they built in the letter."
So, whenever Musk does decide to roll out X merchandise, it will be interesting to see if he does it in a way to avoid lawsuits, or if the competitors let him be.