Twitter CEO Elon Musk wreaked even more self-inflicted chaos on his life by changing the name of the well-recognized social media brand to "X," a mystifying decision that will more than likely trigger plenty of legal challenges.
Tech giant Microsoft, for instance, has owned a trademark for the letter since 2003, related to its Xbox brand.
And as it turns out, even Meta-formerly-Facebook has a federal trademark, which it registered in 2019, for a blue-and-white letter "X" — and it's directly related to "social networking services," presaging even more drama for Musk's troubled microblogging site.
In short, Musk's shoddily executed and horribly timed rebrand could cost the already-struggling business dearly. None of that, needless to say, bodes well considering his $44 billion investment is already costing him astonishing sums in interest payments alone.
"I know everyone is excited for a possible Musk vs. Zuck cage fight, but the potential trademark battle could be even better," lawyer Daniel Heitner tweeted, referencing yet another sideshow in Musk's hectic circus.
What remains to be seen is if the Mark Zuckerberg-led Meta will end up challenging Musk's ailing enterprise. Meta's trademark does visually look different from Musk's "X," as Insider points out, with two arrows, one white and one blue, pointing inwards.
But that may not be enough for Musk to protect his decision in court. After all, an "X" is an "X."
"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," Douglas Masters, a trademark attorney at law firm Loeb & Loeb, told Reuters.
"The logo does not have much distinctive about it, so the protection will be very narrow," he added.
"There's a 100 percent chance that Twitter is going to get sued over this by somebody," trademark attorney Josh Gerben told Reuters, counting almost 900 active trademark registrations that cover the letter "X."
Other experts told Fox Business that it will ultimately be up to the court to decide if Musk was really infringing on either Meta or Microsoft's trademark.
As has been the case on many occasions, these legal battles are entirely of Musk's own making. It was his confounding decision to rename Twitter, dumping well over a decade of brand recognition and value in exchange for an uninspired name that's far more closely associated with online porn.
As Zuckerberg gears up to fight his rival in the octagon, in other words, Musk has handed him yet another advantage in the C-suite. And that's not to mention Threads, Zuckerberg's Instagram-based Twitter rival that has attracted plenty of attention.
This all leads to the question of why Musk would opt to actively punish himself in this way. What's his endgame? Is he trying to bury Twitter as a company for good, or seeking revenge after being thrown out of PayPal for trying to change its name to "X" two decades ago?
Are we watching Twitter's last hurrah unfold before Musk shuts the doors for good? It's clear that advertisers aren't keen on paying the bills, and users aren't exactly flocking to hand Musk $8 a month for a service that's still somehow called "Twitter Blue" in spite of the rebrand.
"I guess my question is, what was he paying for?" Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine wrote. "Musk didn’t want Twitter for its employees (whom he fired) or its code (which he trashes regularly) or its brand (which he abandoned) or its most dedicated users (whom he is working to drive away)."
"He just wanted an entirely different Twitter-like service," he concluded. "Surely he could have built that for less than $44 billion? Mark Zuckerberg did!"
More on Twitter: Elon May Have a Huge Issue Because Microsoft Owns the "X" Trademark
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