X Social Media sues Twitter 2.0 over alphabet soup branding


The wisdom of Twitter's pivot to X under Elon Musk has been repeatedly questioned and now those chickens are coming home to roost with a lawsuit brought by Florida ad agency X Social Media.

X as a concept in the English language often relates to some nebulous quality (or mathematical variable) rather than something that a brand ought to hook recognition on, and yet hundreds of companies do. Both Meta and Microsoft, to name just two, have "X" trademarks, the latter going back some 20 years and relating to the Xbox. Meta's mark came with its acquisition of Microsoft's doomed Mixer livestreaming service.

There's nothing to stop anyone from trademarking single letters. It becomes a problem, though, when similar trademarks are used in the same business arena, which is why X Social Media may have a hard time making its case against X for "unfair competition and trademark and service mark infringement" in violation of Florida common law.

The company, which has been using its registered trademark "X SOCIALMEDIA" since 2016 to "connect consumers with legal services," alleges in the complaint [PDF] that it has "already suffered loss in revenue that correlates with X Corp.'s rebrand and use of the mark 'X.'"

It shows a screenshot of a Google search for "x social media" which returns top results for X Corp. – which is awkward.

"In a short time, X Corp. has wielded its social media clout, marketing resources, and overall national notoriety to dominate consumer perception of its 'X' mark," the lawsuit claims. "This has resulted in the perception that X Corp. is the source for services offered under the X SocialMedia Mark, despite the fact that X Social Media has offered services under its own X mark for over eight years."

In a brief moment of madness, we tried to remind ourselves of Xitter's press contact and faced the same quandary X Social Media is in – endless lists of other companies with X in their names. We tried press@twitter.com and received the automated: "Busy now, please check back later."

In truth, the global coverage of Twitter's rebrand has likely made it too big to fail. Twitter is X now, and if your social media marketing agency has an identical name, well, that's too bad. On the other hand, X Corp. would have similar difficulties enforcing its trademark if the company felt it had to.

More social media insanity

In other batty social media news, Paris Hilton has signed a deal with X to create original programming for the platform – something to do with "video and live video, live commerce, Spaces, and so much more," CEO Linda Yaccarino said.

Yaccarino has really been given a raw deal. Her appointment from head of advertising at NBC was supposed to revive Twitter's fortunes after brands pulled ad spending from the platform in their droves. We assume that the wooing of the original "famous for being famous" socialite Hilton into a two-year deal to produce four programs a year is meant to bring users and advertisers back.

In which case we'd argue that's about as likely as #Sliving coming into common usage.

Meanwhile, it seems that Mark Zuckerberg believes people would be willing to pay a monthly subscription to use Instagram and Facebook without personalized ads.

According to the WSJ, the proposal was reportedly aimed at European users because of EU rules that want parent company Meta to receive explicit user consent for highly targeted advertising, its main moneymaker.

The idea is that users will be given the choice of a free service with creepy ads or to pay and see no ads – $14 a month for Instagram on phones or $17 for Instagram and Facebook on a desktop.

It's not much of a choice at all, is it? Alternatively, people could make the sane choice and get off Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest. We were doing just fine before they came along. ®

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