Elon Musk's social media platform sued for copyright infringement by marketing agency
Legal-marketing firm X Social Media LLC filed a lawsuit against X Corp (formerly known as Twitter), in a federal district court in Florida, alleging that the social media giant's new name and related marketing campaign violates its registered trade and service marks featuring the letter "X" constituting both unfair competition and a deceptive trade practice.
The plaintiff is situated in Windermere, Florida, and describes itself as “a vanguard in utilizing social media and marketing technology to connect consumers with legal services in situations where those harmed would remain voiceless and without remedy.” According to the organization's website, Jacob and Roseanna Malherbe formed it in 2015 to help citizens of the Florida Panhandle find lawyers in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The lawsuit claims the company has been using the name "X Social Media" since 2016 and is the owner of federally registered trade and service marks for use in association with advertising services.
They claim to have spent more than US$400 million on Facebook advertising alone, and believe that Twitter was aware of X Social Media’s pre-existing rights when they launched their re-branding campaign in July 2023.
The business said that Twitter's rebranding has since led to consumers believing that X Social Media’s advertising services were being offered by or are associated with X Corp.
They claim a cease and desist notice sent to X Corp in August 2023, prior to filing the litigation, was summarily ignored, and as a result has left customers perplexed and cost it money.
"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 said.
In addition to asking the court to order Musk's business to stop using the "X" mark, X Social Media is seeking monetary damages equivalent to three times its losses or X’s profits.
This appears to be the first of what could be several trademark conflicts over the letter "X," which is frequently used in tech branding, with Musk's company.
Numerous federal trademarks belonging to businesses including Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Meta Platforms (META.O) contain "X" in their mark. Last month, X Corp submitted a trademark registration application for the letter in the United States, following earlier registrations in jurisdictions outside the United States.
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