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Can Elon Musk actually use that X brand for Twitter?

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Now that Elon Musk has formally changed Twitter’s brand with an X, many people are questioning: can he truly use it?

The drastic rebranding doesn’t come as a lot of a shock to Musk-watchers. Musk has lengthy touted his thought of X as an “every thing” app that gives audio, video, messaging, and assist for digital funds. He has additionally based an organization referred to as X.com earlier than it merged with PayPal within the 12 months 2000. Whereas that title by no means resurfaced, that didn’t cease Musk from incorporating the letter X into all his different manufacturers, together with SpaceX, xAI, X Corp., and now Twitter.

On Sunday, Musk declared that Twitter will be rebranded as X and turned to the positioning’s neighborhood to fee a brand new brand. “If a adequate X brand is posted tonight, we’ll make [it] go dwell worldwide tomorrow,” Musk wrote. That night time, Twitter consumer Sawyer Merritt offered up an X logo he not wanted, which Musk scooped proper up. However whereas its design appears considerably distinctive at first look, the notion of 1 chunky, angular line crossing over a skinny one wasn’t created from scratch.

Merritt says the designer he labored with was merely “impressed by a font he discovered on-line,” however that designer appears to contradict that with a put up of his personal, stating he based mostly it on a Unicode character. And that designer’s assertion doesn’t essentially clear issues up, both: whereas Twitter’s new brand does appear to be it may have been impressed by a Unicode character, it seems nearly precisely like one from Monotype. Both approach, on-line sleuths have traced the design again to each potential sources.

Monotype is the typeface firm that has created a few of the world’s most recognizable fonts, together with Instances New Roman and Arial. When you take a look at the letter “X” in Monotype’s Special Alphabets 4, you’ll discover that it intently resembles Twitter’s new brand design. (Twitter’s first stab on the X seems just like the lowercase X, whereas a thicker one which Musk briefly tried seems just like the capital X from Monotype.) 

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Right here’s what the “X” glyph seems like within the upper-case and lower-case variations of Particular Alphabets 4.
Screenshot: Sean Hollister / The Verge

While Ars Technica got confirmation from Monotype that the brand isn’t the identical because the capital X in Particular Alphabets 4, it nonetheless hasn’t heard again concerning the lowercase X, which the brand seems much more like. “We are able to affirm that while it’s related, this isn’t the capital X glyph from Monotype’s ‘Particular Alphabets 4,” Monotype spokesperson Phil Garnham tells Ars Technica

We reached out to Monotype to see if it may affirm whether or not the brand matches the lowercase character and didn’t instantly hear again. If Twitter’s brand does, certainly, match up with Monotype’s font, it will have to buy a license so as to use it.

The Unicode character mathematical double-struck capital X (U+1D54F).
Screenshot: Emma Roth / The Verge

Nevertheless, a considerably related character can also be current in Unicode’s database, below the title mathematical double-struck capital X (U+1D54F). This character is supposed to be used in mathematical equations and first appeared in Unicode model 3.1 in 2001. It doesn’t appear to be Musk would face any authorized hurdles by utilizing an emblem from Unicode. Characters submitted to Unicode Commonplace are “launched below the Unicode License, a free and open-source license that enables anybody to make use of the supplies with out restriction,” Unicode Consortium spokesperson Katherine Clark tells The Verge. That features use in a trademark or firm brand.

Even when the brand doesn’t violate any font licenses, which dictate whether or not somebody has to pay to make use of a font, having a brand consultant of a letter of the alphabet would possibly make an X trademark more durable to guard. And if you happen to’re questioning — sure, you may register a single letter of the alphabet as a trademark (although just for a particular class of products and providers). In this 2015 report from Fast Company, Chris Chafin wrote that “single letters are among the many hottest emblems registered in america,” with every letter of the alphabet having a whole bunch of emblems related to them.

“A trademark doesn’t have to be notably distinctive to be protectable”

As outlined by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a trademark is a phrase, phrase, image, design, or a mixture of all these parts that you should use to characterize an organization. Emblems exist so customers can distinguish items and providers supplied by one supply from these supplied by one other. Being extra distinctive than a single letter of the alphabet makes that simpler, but it surely’s not needed. 

“A trademark doesn’t have to be notably distinctive to be protectable, so long as the proprietor can present that individuals affiliate the mark with the model,” Alexandra Roberts, a professor of legislation and media at Northeastern College, tells The Verge. “There are literally thousands of single-letter trademark registrations; many, however not all, of them are extra elaborately stylized than the one which now seems on the positioning previously often known as Twitter. Given the massive consumer base on Twitter and the variety of folks following and reporting on this rebrand, I count on it wouldn’t take very lengthy to determine that the brand new ‘X’ features as a trademark and customers affiliate it with Twitter’s providers or model.”

If Twitter does totally rebrand itself as X, that also received’t forestall different corporations from utilizing X branding. In spite of everything, the much less exceptional a trademark is, the harder it’s to stop others from utilizing it. Each Meta and Microsoft every have already got their very own emblems on logos that appear to be an X. In Microsoft’s case, it registered for a trademark on an “X” brand for its line of Xbox merchandise again in 2003, with the mark’s objective listed as “offering on-line chat rooms for transmission of messages amongst pc customers regarding video and pc video games.” 

As for why Meta additionally has a registered trademark on an X brand, it’s as a result of the corporate acquired Microsoft’s now-defunct Mixer streaming software in 2020. The submitting describes the trademark as a “stylized letter ‘X’” with white on its left facet and blue on its proper facet. Its objective is equally targeted on gaming. 

That distinction is necessary. Since Twitter’s X brand received’t be used for gaming — at the very least not that we all know of but — Meta and Microsoft shouldn’t have any points with it. That’s as a result of corporations can have related marks so long as they don’t cross into every others’ industries and confuse customers. 

“In a crowded subject with plenty of ‘X’ emblems, it will likely be troublesome to implement in opposition to others”

However that would change. Musk is a identified gamer and was busy enjoying Diablo IV whereas he advised followers about his plans to cut Twitter’s logo from the side of the company’s headquarters. Given Musk’s impulsive choice to buy Twitter, it wouldn’t be all that stunning if Musk determined to get into gaming on a whim. There’s additionally Musk’s idea of X as an “everything” app. This might carry the app exterior the realm of social media and into others like fee techniques and banking, which may get in the best way of different X-branded providers within the monetary subject, like the net buying and selling app Xtrade and even XInsurance.

“In a crowded subject with plenty of ‘X’ emblems, it will likely be troublesome to implement in opposition to others,” Roberts tells The Verge. “The argument that may allow Twitter/Musk to get safety for the mark would be the similar argument that impedes aggressive enforcement.”

Whereas Musk says the present X design is only a placeholder, that also hasn’t stopped him from plastering the brand throughout Twitter’s desktop website and even on its headquarters. Twitter’s rebrand goes full steam forward regardless of the cost, and there aren’t many authorized hurdles standing in the best way — X is right here, whether or not we prefer it or not.

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