30 Mei 2024

Elon Musk, X, stole the handle ‘@X’ from a photographer to rebrand Twitter, gave no compensation

3 min read

Elon Musk, X, stole the handle ‘@X’ from a photographer to rebrand Twitter, gave no compensation

Elon Musk and his team forcibly took away the handle ‘@x’ from a photographer, who had set up the account in 2007, without informing or paying them. Once he made some noise about it, he was given some ‘X’ branded merchandise after a meeting with X’s staff

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Elon Musk recently initiated a rapid campaign to rename and rebrand Twitter, as “X” on Monday. Accompanying the rebranding, the platform introduced a new logo, a black-and-white version of the letter “X.”

As part of this transition, the official Twitter handle was changed to @X, rendering the original @Twitter handle inactive.

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Musk’s fiefdom – doing whatever he wants
However, it has come to light that Musk acquired the @X account on Twitter from someone without compensating its owner, as reported by Telegraph. The account belonged to Gene X Hwang, co-founder of Orange Photography, an event photo company, who had been contemplating selling the @X account, which was registered in 2007.

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Instead, Hwang received an official email on Tuesday, informing him that his Twitter account would be now taken over by the company.

After receiving the email acknowledging that his Twitter account now belonged to “X,” Gene X Hwang shared his experience with The Telegraph, expressing his disappointment at the lack of communication from the company. He mentioned, “They just took it essentially – kinda what I thought might happen.”

While the owner of the @X account did receive some X merchandise and had a virtual meeting with Twitter’s management, he was not offered any financial compensation.

What rights does Hwang have?
It’s worth noting that Twitter users do not possess legal rights to their usernames; however, the company’s terms of service specify that accounts may be taken down if they infringe on trademarks.

Hwang originally opened his Twitter account in 2007, a year after the micro-blogging platform was launched worldwide.

Following the incident, the company assigned Hwang’s account a new handle, “@x12345678998765.” Fortunately, Hwang was able to regain control of his account, albeit under a different handle, and it retained the same set of followers. In response to this resolution, he expressed his satisfaction, stating, “All’s well that ends well.”

Murky waters for Musk and X ahead
The rebranding of Twitter to “X” could potentially lead to legal complications for the company. Companies like Meta and Microsoft already hold intellectual property rights associated with the letter “X.” Trademark attorney Josh Gerben pointed out the potential legal hurdles, noting that there are nearly 900 active US trademark registrations covering the letter “X” in various industries. Given this situation, it is highly likely that Twitter might face lawsuits from different entities asserting their rights.

Elon Musk has a vision of transforming “X” into a “super app,” intending to integrate Twitter’s existing social networking and messaging features. Additionally, Musk reportedly plans to incorporate payments, banking, and video capabilities into this platform. As this ambitious endeavour unfolds, the legal implications and challenges surrounding the rebranding will undoubtedly attract significant attention and scrutiny.