Multi-billionaire tech mogul and supposed free speech warrior Elon Musk is being sued by X Social Media, a Florida-based social media agency that goes by a very similar name.
X Social Media say they’ve lost revenue since Musk decided to rename Twitter ‘X', claiming the tech giant violated Florida state law relating to brand name trademarks.
The news comes amid another rough week for Musk, who is imminently about to be sued for defamation and already has a litany of other lawsuits to deal with as well.
X Trademarks The Spot
This week, social media advertising agency X Social Media LLC filed a lawsuit alleging that X Corp. (the company formally known as Twitter), broke common law in the state of Florida arising from “unfair competition and trademark and service mark infringement” when it rebranded as ‘X'.
The lawsuit explains that Musk’s decision to rename Twitter ‘X' “quickly caused reverse confusion and led consumers to believe that X Social Media’s advertising services are being offered by or are associated with X Corp” the filing continues.”
“As ‘X' is a social media platform, consumers naturally conflate ‘X SocialMedia' as an X Corp.’s social media platform,” the filing contends, pointing to the fact that media outlets covering the Twitter rebrand “used the X SocialMedia Mark in its entirety in headlines while referencing X Corp”.
X Social Media, which was founded in 2015, has continuously used the name “X SocialMedia” since 2016.
Does X SocialMedia Claimant Have a Point?
As letters go, “X” is pretty popular in the world of marketing and branding – it won’t surprise you to know that X Social Media and X Corp. aren’t the only two organizations that use the letter X in their names and logos.
It’s quite hard, then, for companies to lay a claim to a single letter in this way, especially considering its long track record of being used by various different entities – at least compared to names like “Microsoft”, which are a lot simpler to claim.
Xerox, Xtrade, the X Games – and even Elon Musk’s very own SpaceX – all utilize the letter X centrally in their branding. Microsoft has registered a trademark for an X for their Xbox products, while Meta owned one several years ago for its “Mixer” streaming app logo, which shut down in 2020.
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Twitter isn’t a gaming product so the risk of confusion with a product like Xbox is reasonably low. However, X Social Media LLC plans to argue that the same cannot be said for themselves – and considering they're also a social media-focused company, that makes some sense.
Elon Musk: The Lawsuits Just Keep on Coming
The ‘X' trademark lawsuit Musk is now facing isn't the only legal battle he's got on his plate.
The news broke this week that a man accused of being involved in a brawl between two competing extremist groups is suing Musk for replying to various media reports that suggested he was an undercover police officer posing as a neo-nazi, amplifying the false claims further.
Musk is already locked in a battle with more than 2,000 former Twitter staff who were laid off in the past twelve months, many of whom claim they weren't paid any severance pay at all. There's reportedly hope this will be settled by December of this year.
Other recent legal troubles include a recently-incurred $350,000 fine for not handing over Donald Trump's Twitter data quickly enough, and Musk himself suing the Center for Countering Digital Hate for allegedly scraping data from the platform in an unlawful manner.
Along with stunts like erecting an enormous, neon X sign without permission, these lawsuits have ensured that the carousel of chaos Twitter has morphed into over the past year keeps on turning.