Elon Musk
Elon Musk's new brand X could face legal difficulties, according to some trademark experts. Wikimedia Commons

A slew of companies including American tech giants Meta and Microsoft own trademarks to the new Twitter name. Twitter owner Elon Musk recently decided to rebrand the social media platform as X.

In fact, the 52-year-old billionaire replaced the iconic bird logo with "X." Much to his chagrin, trademark experts claim that he could be on the verge of facing legal difficulties.

Apparently, several companies including Meta and Microsoft, already own intellectual property rights for the letter and versions of its logo. Musk renamed Twitter just nine months after acquiring the company for a whopping $44 billion (about £31,680,000,000).

The tech mogul has been sparing no effort to transform Twitter into an "everything app." This purported app would offer services like India's PayTM and China's WeChat. So, it is safe to say that the name change was part of this transformation.

According to X chief executive Linda Yaccarino, the company wanted to "transform the global town square" to integrate payments, banking and create a "global marketplace for ideas, goods, services and opportunities." However, it looks like achieving this goal won't be a walk in the park.

Twitter's legal and financial problems are likely to worsen

IP lawyers believe Elon Musk's firm could face serious challenges from its tech rivals. US trademark lawyer Josh Gerben told Reuters that there is a "100 per cent chance that Twitter is going to get sued over this by somebody."

Gerben further pointed out that there are about 900 active US trademark registrations that encompass the letter X. These include Meta, which was formerly known as Facebook. Reportedly, Mark Zuckerberg's tech company owns a federal trademark for a blue-and-white letter "X."

This trademark is related to "social networking services in the fields of entertainment, gaming and application development." As if that wasn't enough, Microsoft has a registered trademark for the letter "X" as well. This trademark is related to the company's Xbox video game console.

Elon Musk's obsession with the letter X

To recap, Musk owned the X.com domain back in 1999, when he launched a financial services company, which later became PayPal. The business magnate decided to reacquire the domain in 2017. He had already made a deal with his former company at the time.

In October 2022, Musk took to Twitter to announce that buying the platform was "an accelerant to creating X, the everything app." Now, it is still unclear whether Musk has applied for a trademark for X. Even if he succeeds, Musk will probably face difficulties in terms of protecting the trademark from other brands using the letter X.

Trademark lawyer with Pinsent Masons, Matthew Harris told The Independent that the "very essence of trademark registration is obtaining an exclusive right to the brand that is registered." According to Harris, "It may be difficult to obtain [a trademark] for Elon Musk under the 'X' rebrand, not to mention the difficulty, should he obtain registered protection, in trying to enforce any registered rights in 'X' against other brands using a similar name."

As the company was getting rid of the bird logo from its San Francisco headquarters earlier this week, the crane and crew were blocking traffic, according to local reporters. The police had to force the crew to move on. Currently, only "er" and the old blue bird logo is left of the old signage.

Understandably, brand agencies were confused why any company would oust popular jargon like "Twitter," "tweet" or "retweet" in favour of this "X" messaging. As a result, several advertisers are reportedly planning to move their ad spending from Twitter to Threads.

According to a Times report, some analysts believe the Twitter brand could be worth several billion dollars. So, Musk could be flushing all that down the drain by ditching the widely popular brand.