No longer a little blue bird, what will IP look like for Twitter’s new “X”?July 28, 2023

Recently Twitter announced that they are attempting to rebrand into “X”. When businesses are rebranding, there can be significant implications on intellectual property rights and certain considerations one should consider such as a trademark search, trademark registration, and copyrights.

Trademarks and copyrights can cover single letters, like “X”. A trademark is used to distinguish and identify a specific brand or source of goods and/or services. Through unique designs and stylization, a specific letter can distinguish a source such as the “D” in Disney. Copyrights cover original works that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression such as a logo, artwork, books, etc. Similar to trademarks, a unique and stylized letter used as a logo may be given copyright protection.

A business should always check through existing trademarks by conducting a trademark search to ensure that the new brand name, logo, or other elements do not infringe upon existing trademarks, including exact matches and those that are similar that may lead to confusion among consumers. If the new brand is clear and would not lead to confusion with other trademarks, a business may consider registering it as a trademark to gain legal protection and rights to use the trademark.

In a simple search using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) operated by the USPTO, there are currently no trademarks in the social media space with just “x”. There is a trademark utilizing “X”, which is in a square, for a downloadable mobile application for “premise access control, even calendar viewing and reservations, office conference room reservations, messaging, maintenance requests, and notifications”. Serial Number, 98054107. Thus, it looks like there would be no confusion with other preexisting trademarks for Twitter’s “X”, but many people have noted that the stylized “X” is quite similar to a Unicode character and Monotype font, which are universally used generic letters and numbers that can be used across computing platforms.

Similar to trademarks, a business should evaluate whether any elements, such as logos, graphics, etc., may qualify for copyright protection and whether registration should be pursued to enforce copyright protections and rights. Even if some protections may be afforded through trademarks, a copyright registration may prove difficult given the reasons above. It is of the upmost importance for copyrights to cover original works, not generic letters.

It seems like Twitter has an uphill battle to gain these IP protections, and it will be interesting to continue hearing what will happen with this rebranding to “X”. In the meantime, it looks like we will be saying good bye to the little blue bird and needing to figure out what posts will be called since a “tweet” doesn’t seem relevant anymore.

Ashley Holland is an intellectual property attorney in the MVS Biotechnology and Chemical Practice Group. To learn more, visit our MVS website, or contact Ashley directly via email.

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