Twitter may have hit a snag while rolling out its new logo — it seems like Meta already holds the rights to it.
Elon Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion last year, announced on Sunday that the platform would now be called X, but Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has already registered an “X” logo in connection to “online social networking services” and “social networking services in the fields of entertainment, gaming, and application development.”
Twitter’s new logo, which was rolled out Monday, also resembles a generic Unicode character known as “mathematical double-struck capital X” that was added to the Unicode in March 2001.
Unicode is an international computing standard in which every character or symbol has a specific numerical value that can be used across platforms.
Matthew Scroggs, a postdoctoral research fellow at University College London, tweeted that the character had “been used in mathematical text books since the 70s.”
The symbol doesn’t have a specific, universal use, but it’s sometimes used to denote an abstract geometric space or object.
The new logo is also nearly identical to the lowercase x in the Monotype font “Special Alphabet 4.”
Trademarks are what lawyers call “source identifiers” — a symbol or branding that customers associate with a company. Twitter’s iconic bird logo has been exactly that — a unique stencil image of a small bird that the general public has come to identify with the social-media site.
Josh Gerben, a trademark lawyer who is a founding partner at the D.C.-based law firm Gerben IP, said a logo needed to be unique and distinctive in some way to be trademarked with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Meta’s “X” logo in its trademark filings looks different from the one Musk put on Twitter’s website. Meta’s “X” looks like two arrows with rounded ends pointing inwards — one white and one blue — while Twitter’s “X” is a black-and-white angular rendition.
But Twitter could run into some hurdles given that it wants to use its X for social-networking purposes, similar to what was stated in Meta’s filings.
Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trademarks also have more value and protection the longer they’re in use, Gerben said, meaning Musk’s new logo is vulnerable to legal challenges in a way that Twitter’s more established icons aren’t.
“My first thought is how much value is probably tied into the Twitter brand, and the bird logo, that has been cast aside,” Gerben said. “Because it’s exceptionally rare that any brand becomes so pervasive in culture and quite frankly, around the world, as Twitter has become.”
Twitter auto-replied to a request for comment with a message saying that the communications department would get back to us soon.