And so it begins … In what is likely the first of many lawsuits, X Social Media, LLC is suing X Corp. (formerly Twitter, Inc.) in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging violations of the Lanham Act, Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and Florida common law as it relates to unfair competition and trademark and service mark infringement.
Founded in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, X Social Media, LLC (“XSM”) states that it leverages the power of social media platforms, like Meta’s Facebook, to connect tort victims with law firms. Through these connections, XSM fulfills its mission of educating individuals that they have choices for redress. Further, XSM apprises the general public of potentially dangerous goods and services.
Aware of the importance of protecting one’s intellectual property, XSM obtained a Federal trademark registration for “X SOCIALMEDIA” for use in association with advertising services. In its complaint, XSM contends that it has used the “X SOCIALMEDIA” mark continuously in commerce over the last five years, making it presumptively incontestable. XSM alleges that it has spent considerable financial resources in building brand awareness, which has, in turn, created “a distinctive ‘X’ mark” linked with its advertising services. Particularly, XSM notes that it “emphasizes the ‘X’ portion of its mark though its advertising, blogs, and newsletters highlighting its work.” Of note, XSM’s official newsletter is “X Weekly.”
X Corp., formerly Twitter, Inc., is a social media site connecting millions of individuals across the globe. In 2022, Twitter was purchased by technology mogul Elon Musk for $44 billion. Subsequently, in July 2023, after months of relative calm, Mr. Musk suddenly decided to rebrand Twitter to “X.” The catalyst for this change was Mr. Musk’s desire to expand the platform’s reach to include significant video and creator partnerships. Along with the change in domain name, Twitter’s famous blue bird was replaced by a black-and-white letter “X.”
In its complaint, XSM alleges that the excitement generated by X Corp.’s rebranding has caused actual and reverse consumer confusion resulting in lost profits and goodwill. Stated differently, XSM contends that ordinary consumers have mistakenly believed that XSM is associated with X Corp. Particularly, the complaint notes that ordinary users “naturally conflate” XSM’s “X SOCIALMEDIA” mark and X Corp.’s use of the “X” mark with its social media platform. Moreover, the complaint contends that the services for which X Corp. has filed trademark applications, e.g., promotional services, business, consumer, and market research, are “closely related” to those offered by XSM and will thus continue to create consumer confusion.
Among other forms of redress, XSM requests that the court issue a permanent injunction against X Corp.’s use of the “X” mark, order X Corp. to publish corrective advertising to remedy the alleged consumer confusion, direct X Corp. to account to XSM all profits resulting from its use of the “X” mark, and award XSM three times the amount of its damages or X Corp.’s profits, whichever is greater.
It will be fascinating to follow how this case develops, and whether other “X” trademark holders seek to assert claims as well.
Written by John Klaczany