The Twitter trade mark discussion started when Elon Musk brokered his $44 billion Twitter, Inc. takeover deal in October 2022, Musk hinted at a name change by tweeting that buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app”。 In April 2023, he took a further step when he folded Twitter, Inc. into X Corp (whose parent is X Holdings Corp). Therefore, the recent announcement of Twitter’s rebranding to X is clearly more calculated and less of a whim than people initially thought. Musk also founded a company called before it merged with PayPal in 2000 and owns the domain name, which he repurchased from PayPal on 5 July 2017, and which domain name now redirects to the website.

X will become the most valuable brand on Earth. Make [sic] my words,” said Elon Musk (“Musk”) on 25 July 2023, in a tweet referencing Twitter’s recent rebranding to X. 

What Becomes of the ‘TWITTER’ Brand?

It is certainly not free for anyone to use.

TWITTER is one of the top five most recognised social media brands in the Western world and it would be surprising if the TWITTER, Bird Logo, TWEET and RETWEET trade marks (“the Twitter trade marks”) disappear entirely from common parlance soon.

The Twitter trade marks are registered and used in numerous countries across the globe in respect of various goods and services. Trade marks are territorial and each country or territory has its own trade mark registration period, which means that the Twitter trade marks may, in some countries, even be valid for the next 10 years. At the relevant time of renewal, X Corp may decide to allow the Twitter trade marks to lapse or to renew them for a further period. 

Importantly, as long as the Twitter trade marks are registered, any third-party use of identical or confusingly similar trade marks will constitute trade mark infringement and may lead to legal action.

Most, if not all, countries also have use requirements in terms of which registered trade marks become vulnerable to cancellation by third parties based on non-use after a certain period. For example, in most countries, in order to stave off non-use cancellation proceedings, the Bird Logo will have to be used at least once every five years. This use could be in combination with X and certainly doesn’t have to be used as the company’s name per se. It does, however, have to be genuine trade mark use, in the country where the trade mark is registered and to further the commercial trade of the goods or services offered under the trade mark in question. With this in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if, now and again, the Bird Logo pops up in the background of the app logo for the social media platform or if TWITTER is used to brand a sub-category of X’s services, such as the provision of online entertainment or a blogging platform. 

The short of the long is that the Twitter trade marks will not easily or quickly lose their distinctiveness and the trade mark registrations will likely remain in force for many more years.

Can Twitter Be Rebuilt with Its Original Name & Logo After Rebranding?

It’s improbable to happen.

For as long as the Twitter trade marks are registered, anyone attempting to adopt and use them will open themselves up to a trade mark infringement case. 

In addition to the trade marks, X Corp is the copyright owner of its Bird Logo. Therefore, it would be entitled to claim copyright infringement against any third party who copies and uses an identical or similar design. In the United States, the general rule is that copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. There is still a fair bit of lifetime on the copyright in the Twitter trade marks.

Public records reflect the registrant of the 和 domain names to be Twitter, Inc. (we expect the registrant details to be updated from Twitter, Inc. to X Corp at the time of renewal). These domain names also link to the website Domain names are renewed annually and X Corp could, therefore also own these in perpetuity. Unlike trade marks, there is no requirement to use domain names or the elements of a domain name (e.g. “Twitter”) as a trade mark, and X Corp could therefore retain these domain names without ever using the Twitter trade marks or the domain names in the future.