Elon Musk’s X rebrand for Twitter could spark litigation from Microsoft and Meta over IP rights.
The trademark X is a contender for legal challenges because it is frequently used and mentioned. The business formerly known as Twitter may also have trouble defending the X brand.
According to trademark lawyer Josh Gerben, approximately 900 active U.S. trademark registrations already cover the letter X across various businesses. Therefore, there is a “100% chance” that Twitter will be sued over this.
Since 2003, Microsoft has controlled the X trademark in connection with communications regarding their Xbox video game system.
Similarly, a blue-and-white letter “X” is covered by a federal trademark owned by Meta Platforms, whose Threads platform is a new Twitter rival. The trademark was registered in 2019 and covers the software and social media industries.
Twitter to X, future litigation?
Analysts and brand agencies estimate that between $4 billion and $20 billion was lost as a result of Musk’s action.
Steve Susi, director of brand communication at Siegel & Gale, said, “It took 15 or more years to earn that much equity worldwide, so losing Twitter as a brand name is a significant financial hit.”
Analysts and branding consultants have criticized the product’s redesign. Analysts and branding consultants slam Twitter’s redesign, which could trigger litigation. Todd Irwin of Fazer, a brand consultancy, says Twitter is a highly recognizable social media company.
According to Joshua White, assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University, the rise of Twitter has also made words like “tweet” and “retweet” a common part of modern culture, used to describe how prominent figures like politicians and celebrities interact with the public.
“Why take a recognized brand, with a lot of brand capital around it and then completely throw it away and start from scratch?” said Prof Jean-Pierre Dube, who teaches at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
“In the short-term, it seems weird.” But in the long term, could it work?
Twitter: On the brighter side
Yanhui Zhao, a professor of marketing at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said that research suggests rebranding might be beneficial, particularly if a company is having problems or wants to alter course.
He noted that Musk wants to turn Twitter into an “everything app” like China’s WeChat, a social messaging platform where users can send money, summon cars, book hotels, and play games, among other things, and suggested that Musk’s initiatives could be timely.
“This is a much-needed rebranding because of the strategic re-direction of Twitter,” he told the BBC by email.
Whether the rebranding is in the right direction remains debatable. But it is a fact that with the difficulties that Twitter is going through, it does need changes and some risk-taking.
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