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27th Jul 2023

Twitter user who owned the @X account says the company took it from him without paying

Steve Hopkins

Musk did however offer some the owner some company merchandise

Elon Musk has completed his re-branding of Twitter to X without reportedly paying the previous owner of the @X account.

After announcing the re-brand Monday, Musk X app has now switched from @Twitter to @X.

For the last 16 years, the account was registered to Gene X. Hwang, the co-founder of photo firm Orange Photography.

On Tuesday, Hwang said that neither Musk nor X had reached out to him, however by Wednesday the account was under the control of the tech billionaire’s company.

Nine months after taking over Twitter in A $44bn deal and walking into its headquarters with a sink, Musk made the branding switch which forms part of his plan to turn the platform into an “everything app”, which will offer services similar to China’s WeChat and India’s PayTM.

X chief executive Linda Yaccarino said the company wanted to “transform the global town square” to integrate payments, banking and create a “global marketplace for ideas, goods, services and opportunities”.

Posting from a new account on Wednesday, Hwang, wrote: “Alls well that ends well.”

The Telegraph reported that neither Musk or X handed over any money for the account, though they did offer some company merchandise.

Musk has reportedly taken over other accounts without permission since he took over the platform in October 2022.

According to Platformer editor Zoe Schiffer, the world’s richest person took over the username @e shortly after acquiring Twitter, despite the original owner being unwilling to part with it.

The @e account remains inactive, featuring the name ‘John Utah’ – the same as the protagonist of the 1991 film Point Break – and following just three accounts: Elon Musk, LAist and Nasa.

X has also changed its other official accounts to ditch the Twitter branding, renaming its subscription service to @XBlue, and @TwitterSupport to @Support.

The company’s Twitter signage was also removed from its San Francisco headquarters on Monday.

The website domain also now redirects to, while all of the site’s blue bird logos have been replaced with a crowd-sourced X logo, The Independent noted.

Trademark lawyers suggested on Tuesday that the branding switch may prompt legal action against Musk as he does not own the intellectual property rights for the letter X when it relates to social networking.

“There’s a 100 per cent chance that Twitter is going to get sued over this by somebody,” one US-based IP lawyer said, according to the Independent.

US trademark lawyer Josh Gerben told Reuters there are nearly 900 active US trademark registrations that already cover the letter X.

Tech rivals Meta and Microsoft both own trademarks for ‘X’ in different domains. Mark Zuckerberg currently controls the federal trademark for a blue-and-white letter ‘X’ for “social networking services” and Microsoft has registered trademarks for the letter ‘X’ relating to its Xbox video game console.

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