From Twitter to X

Twitter, the popular social media platform that has been around since 2006, is no more. Well, not exactly. The website and the app are still functioning, but they have a new name and a new logo: X. This is the result of a surprising decision by Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Twitter, who announced the rebranding over the weekend. Musk said he wanted to turn Twitter into an “everything app” that would offer audio, video, messaging, payments, banking, and more. He also said he wanted to “embody the imperfections in us all that make us unique” by using the letter X.

blue twitter tiles piled together

Twitter, the popular social media platform that has been around since 2006, is no more. Well, not exactly. The website and the app are still functioning, but they have a new name and a new logo: X. This is the result of a surprising decision by Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Twitter, who announced the rebranding over the weekend. Musk said he wanted to turn Twitter into an “everything app” that would offer audio, video, messaging, payments, banking, and more. He also said he wanted to “embody the imperfections in us all that make us unique” by using the letter X.

While this may sound like a typical move by Musk, who is known for his eccentric and visionary ideas, it is actually a bad idea from a trademark perspective. Trademarks are legal rights that protect brand names, logos, slogans, and other elements that identify and distinguish products or services from those of others. Trademarks are valuable assets that can help businesses stand out from the competition, build customer loyalty, and increase their market share. However, not all trademarks are created equal. Some are stronger and easier to protect than others.

Twitter is a strong trademark. It is distinctive, memorable, catchy, and easy to pronounce and spell. It has also become a household name and a cultural phenomenon over the years, with millions of users worldwide who use it to communicate, share information, express opinions, and follow celebrities, politicians, and other influencers. Twitter has also become a verb in everyday language, meaning to post or read messages on the platform. Twitter has built a lot of brand equity and goodwill with its customers and the public.

X is a weak trademark. It is generic, common, bland, and hard to differentiate from other uses of the letter. It has no inherent meaning or connection to the products or services offered by the platform. It also faces a lot of competition and confusion from other brands that use or own trademarks involving the letter X in various industries. For example, Microsoft has an X trademark related to its Xbox video game system; Meta Platforms has an X trademark covering its software and social media operations; and hundreds of other companies have registered or applied for trademarks involving the letter X in the U.S. alone.

By rebranding Twitter as X, Musk is essentially throwing away billions of dollars in brand value and exposing himself to potential legal challenges from other trademark owners who may claim infringement or dilution of their rights. He is risking losing customers who may not recognize or like the new name and logo, or who may switch to other platforms that offer similar or better services. He is also making it harder and costlier for himself to protect his new trademark in the future, as he will have to prove that his X is distinctive and not confusing with other Xs in the market instead of simply expanding on the seventeen plus years of goodwill and brand development already earned under Twitter.

Musk’s rebranding decision may seem “on brand” for him as an innovator and disruptor who likes to challenge the status quo and do things differently. However, from a trademark perspective, this might not be the best approach, and it could harm his business and reputation in the long run.