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Why Musk’s “X” could become a trademark problem in the EU

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Why Musk’s “X” could become a trademark problem in the EU

Since July 2023, Elon Musk has renamed the short message service Twitter X and changed the logo. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Elon Musk’s attempt to rename the short message service Twitter X could turn out to be a legal fiasco for the company in the EU.

The reason: The renaming at the end of July may conflict with intellectual property rights, the Politico news service reported.

According to Database, coordinated and managed by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, already has 262 Xs registered as trademarks. Musk’s “X” is not among them.

Elon Musk’s attempt to rename the short message service Twitter “X” could turn out to be a legal fiasco for the company in the EU. The reason: The renaming at the end of July may conflict with intellectual property rights, the news service “Politico” reported.*

Accordingly, Musk is said to have already received warnings from trademark lawyers. Because he is by no means the only one who has chosen the symbol as a trademark: in addition to the rock band Metallica or the software company Microsoft, the car manufacturer Honda and the sports goods manufacturer Adidas also have versions of X as trademarks.

According to Database, coordinated and managed by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, 262 Xs are already registered as trademarks, according to Politico. You would have acquired the exclusive right to use X for certain industries, designs or other purposes. So far, however, it is not known that Twitter or Musk have ever owned the rights to an EU trademark for X.

What threatens Musk and X without the EU trademark rights?

“If you’re planning to change the name, especially a well-known name, you would expect the intellectual property rights to be secure in that regard,” David Krantz, a trademark attorney at law firm Aomb, told Politico ‘ and then adds: ‘However, this does not appear to be the case.’

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Without X’s usage rights, Musk is taking a risk: First, his company could face threats that he may no longer use the name or symbol under certain circumstances, or at all. On the other hand, other companies could demand high damages because their established brand would be violated by Musks X.

Can Musk subsequently register “X” as a trademark in the EU?

Triona Desmond, a lawyer at the internationally renowned commercial law firm Pinsent Masons, describes a subsequent registration as a “daring thing” to “Politico”. If Musk files an EU trademark for the new social media name, “he could be dealing with a lot of different companies that have a lot of different X-brands,” she says.

Microsoft alone owns two trademarks that use the image of an X, including the logo of the Xbox game console. It is scheduled to expire in May 2025. The group also owns several brands with X’s in the UK. In addition, the company behind the TV talent show ‘X Factor’ has acquired rights to an EU trademark.

All of these X-brand owners could therefore consider legal action if Musk’s X-logo was too similar to theirs and there was a likelihood of confusion, Lisbeth Depyere, a senior associate at the law firm CMS, told Politico.

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