Elon Musk’s seemingly erratic behaviour emerged again with his unexpected rebranding of Twitter to X, a move which could open a new legal front against him in Europe. Politico reports that the American CEO and his company are likely to face problems with the EU’s Intellectual Property Office over the name change.
Musk was already at loggerheads with Eurocrats over his libertarian approach to content moderation on the platform. The soon-to-be-implemented Digital Services Act is specifically tailored to curb so-called hate speech on the internet by forcing corporations to regulate content more stringently.
On Monday, July 24th, Musk confirmed that Twitter would be renamed X. Many copyright experts have warned that the move placed the company on a collision course with already-existing brands with a similar name, such as Microsoft, Sony, and Panasonic.
Musk completed his takeover of Twitter in October 2022, promising to maintain it as a haven of free speech after years of political censorship. His approach has angered EU regulatory officials, in particular the EU’s top competition guru Thierry Breton, who vowed to bring the platform to heel.
There are already 262 X trademarks registered to the EU’s patent office with no indication that Musk has the right to use the brand or had even asked for permission to do so before announcing the change.
EU copyright lawyers could now take Musk to task should they classify the rebrand as copyright infringement, allowing the companies affected to sue for damages.
The potential trademark battle forms part of an awkward symbiotic relationship between the EU and Musk because his companies represent a strategic value for Europe in the areas of green tech production and launching satellites.
This is not the first time that Musk has been at the centre of controversy. Approximately half of Twitter’s former 7,500-strong staff have been fired since the Musk takeover with revelations indicating the extent to which the platform had engaged in political manipulation to favour progressive causes.