Twitter’s “X” Rebrand: What About the Trademarks?

The Twitter rebrand to “X” is the trademark story of the year.

Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. The Twitter trademark is known (and protected) around the world.
    Elon Musk’s recent decision to rebrand Twitter as “X,” abandoning a globally recognized and protected trademark in favor of a new one is unprecedented.
  2. Registering trademarks in the United States and overseas can take years of efforts. There is no way to “globally” register a trademark, so a significant international strategy will have to be enacted.
  3. As I told Reuters, there is about a 100% probability that Twitter/X will be sued.
    With hundreds of X-formative trademarks on the USPTO’s federal register, it’s likely that there will be  both opportunistic and legitimate plaintiffs filing infringements lawsuits over the new name.

In the ever-evolving world of business and branding, trademarks play pivotal roles in shaping a company’s identity and public perception. X will likely face many challenges while attempting to secure the “X” trademark in both the United States and across the globe.

This article will walk you through some of Twitter’s existing marks, as well as the likely challenges it will face while attempting to protect and eventually enforce the brand’s new identity with trademarks.

About Twitter’s Rebrand to X

In July 2023, Elon Musk announced his intentions to rebrand the social media company Twitter to “X” in a series of tweets. The rebrand goes beyond name and logo, as Musk’s vision includes an expanded version of the app that would include “everything” from shopping to communication and entertainment.

Twitter’s Trademark Portfolio

Over the years, Twitter’s blue bird logo has become a globally recognized symbol, synonymous with the social media platform. It enjoys protection and recognition around the world, making it a valuable asset for the company.

In addition to the blue bird logo, Twitter has a vast trademark portfolio, full of words or phrases that have become part of the public’s vernacular, such as:

  • TWEET
  • RETWEET
  • SUB TWEET
  • TWEETDECK
  • TWEETSTORM
  • and more.

For a full list of Twitter trademarks, check out Gerben’s Trademark Library.

With established trademark rights in the United States and across the globe, the Twitter brand would have had the freedom to offer a wide range of products and services, backed by the confidence that its trademarks would be safeguarded against infringement.

The Complexities of Registering Trademarks Worldwide

It takes years of effort to build a trademark portfolio the size of Twitter’s, especially when registering the trademarks in foreign countries in addition to the United States.

While Musk’s vision for “X” as a replacement for Twitter might be ambitious, the challenges in securing trademark registrations worldwide are equally daunting. Each country has its own unique set of requirements and legal procedures for trademark registration.

Given the vast array of services that Musk intends to offer under the “X” brand, the chance of the company obtaining comprehensive trademark protection in every targeted country will be very low.

It’s also likely that the vast majority of trademark infringement issues will originate from overseas countries, making the enforcement of the “X” brand extremely difficult.

The Legal Battle for “X” in the United States

Trademark disputes can be both costly and time-consuming, and in the case of Twitter’s “X” rebrand, the likelihood of legal challenges is almost guaranteed.

There are nearly 900 active trademark registrations that cover the letter X for a wide range of industries on the USPTO’s federal register.

The cost of securing trademark registrations for “X” and defending the mark in court could potentially amount to tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

On the other hand, had the social media company retained its existing Twitter brand, it likely would not need to spend anything, other than typical attorney and government filing fees for new trademark applications which would cover the expansion of products and services within the brand.

What Comes Next for “X”?

 As Twitter embarks on its journey as “X,” several developments are likely to unfold in the coming months and years:

  1. Expect to see Twitter/X commence the process of filing for the “X” trademark in the United States and various other countries if it hasn’t already. The company will aim to establish protection for its new brand in key markets.
  2. It won’t be long before the first infringement lawsuits appear in US courts.
  3. Meanwhile, the less-publicized disputes abroad may add complexity to the international trademark strategy. A well-planned international trademark strategy is vital to safeguard the brand’s reputation and prevent potential infringement.

Final Thoughts

Twitter’s rebrand as “X” is undoubtedly a bold move that will be closely monitored by legal experts and industry observers alike, as the decision to depart from a well-established and protected trademark comes with inherent risks and significant legal challenges.

While the path to securing the “X” trademark worldwide may be arduous, it also presents an opportunity for Twitter/X to redefine its brand identity and potentially create new avenues for growth and innovation. Only time will tell how this trademark tale unfolds and whether the rewards will outweigh the risks.

If you need help securing a trademark registration or need to complete a rebrand for your business, contact the experienced trademark attorneys at Gerben IP.

Josh Gerben, Esq.

Josh Gerben, Esq. is the founder and principal of Gerben IP. In 2008, Mr. Gerben started the firm to provide high-quality trademark services at reasonable prices. Today, he is recognized by the World Trademark Review as a top trademark filer, having registered over 8,000 trademarks. The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and may not be relied on as legal advice.

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