Twitter’s new name and logo are less than a week old. But the company is already facing trouble. Apparently, several other companies hold the naming rights to the letter X – including Meta and Microsoft.
On Monday, 24 July 2023, Elon Musk announced that his recently acquired company Twitter would be called X in future. A new logo has also adorned the platform since then and the domain “X.com” redirects to “Twitter.com”.
But this should not be the end of the matter for Elon Musk. It looks like several companies hold the rights to Musk’s favourite letters, including Meta and Microsoft. This means that the rebranding could once again prove to be an expensive affair for the Twitter owner.
Twitter and the crux of the X
“There is a 100 per cent chance that Twitter will be sued by someone over this,” Reuters quotes trademark lawyer Josh Gerben as saying. He said he has found “nearly 900 active US trademark registrations” associated with the letter X.
These include tech giants Meta and Microsoft. Microsoft, which sells the Xbox console, registered a trademark X back in 2003. This relates to communications about its in-house video game system.
Meta has owned trademark rights relating to the letter X since 2019. The group owns the registered US federal trademark for a blue and white X for software and social media.
Where did Twitter’s new logo come from?
While things are probably heating up in X’s legal department, the platform itself is also discussing, among other things, where Twitter’s new logo comes from.
Some users see Elon Musk’s now widely used X as the letter from Monotype’s “Special Alphabets 4” font.
But Phil Garnhan, executive creative director at Monotype, has refuted this theory, as the Financial Times reports. The letter used by Twitter does look similar to the font. But it is not the X from the “Special Alphabets 4” font.
Twitter: The X from Unicode
But the X used by Elon Musk and Twitter for the new logo comes from Unicode. A standard that defines how characters are represented in electronic form.
Unicode contains about 150,000 characters, including the X for Twitter’s renaming. The code behind it is U+1D54F and stands for Mathematical Double-Struck Capital X.
According to the Financial Times report, it is questionable whether such a Unicode letter can be used for a trademark at all.
There is also the question of who is the originator of this sign. According to the FT, this could be Apple, which “could still decide to make a fuss”.