Twitter, recently changed hands and became owned by Elon Musk, who decided to change its name to "X".

There's the FOSS X11 desktop environment being developed for various Unix and Unix-like systems, and is hosted at x.org. Many operating systems provide X11 GUI packages under the "umbrella" name of xorg (which means installing this package will automatically install other dependencies on those systems)

Q: Is it possible, that some kind of trademark dispute can lead to X11 losing its x.org domain name, and/or other formed/formless assets?

3 Answers 3


This is unlikely to be a problem. There are many companies that have already registered software-related trademarks prominently involving an X or the name Xcom. That Twitter has changed to X branding does not substantially change this general situation.

With trademarks, the general question is whether similar branding causes confusion. It is unlikely that someone would confuse the X display server / X.Org project / X.Org Foundation with the social media service now being branded as X or x.com.

Of course, anyone can sue anyone, the real question is whether that's possible successfully. Here, I have my doubts that x.com could successfully demonstrate confusion in its favour.

It is worth noting that the X.Org Foundation does not seem to hold any relevant trademark registrations at all. This is not unusual for Open Source software projects and doesn't mean that X.Org has no rights, but does make a defense a bit more difficult. However, there also doesn't seem to be a relevant registration by the ex-Twitter company or by the X Corp.

The x.org domain name is unlikely to be threatened. If the x.org domain name was being used in bad faith it could maybe be seized, but the X.Org Foundation has a pretty strong claim on this name. For historical context, both x.com and x.org were among the six single-letter .org/.net/.com domain names when such registrations were stopped in 1993. But while x.com has been pretty much dormant since that company was renamed to PayPal, x.org has (I think) always been associated with the display server software, and has been used continuously by the X.Org Foundation since its establishment in 2004.

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    "X" is a live and registered trademark in several computer categories, held by the previous stewards of the X11 spec, The Open Group. (USPTO Serial 74511732)
    – user71659
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 16:24

Trademark rights go to the first one who uses them in commerce, or who registered them with the intention to use them in commerce. So if anything, the X.Org Foundation could be a legal threat to Twitter X , claiming that the rebranding of Twitter infringes their trademark which they have already been using in commerce for decades. Not the other way around.

However, a possible response of a large company discovering that they inadvertently infringed on the trademark rights of a much smaller company and now facing a legal dispute with them, is to look for a small third company that used a similar trademark even before that to obtain those even earlier trademark rights. I remember that mobile game developer Zynga once pulled that maneuver in a trademark dispute with another developer. But unfortunately I can't find details about that case, because thanks to the countless trademark lawsuits Zynga was involved in, this became ungoogleable. But a comment by user71659 on this question mentions a legal dispute between two email providers where this maneuver was used successfully.

So what Twitter X could now do is try to find some tech company that used the X brand for a software product even before X.Org and then buy them. But considering that the X Window System was already published in the 80s, that might be quite challenging.


First, he can offer enough money to buy x.org. He's got the money, and there's a point where money in your pocket is more important than any principles. That would be legally the simplest thing to do.

Second, can he threaten x.org? Well, obviously he can. Imagine me shaking my fist wildly at x.org. I can threaten them, so can he. It wouldn't have much effect except laughter.

Can he sue x.org? Well, obviously he can. In that case there would be the question what he would sue them for. There are many possible reasons, some would be rejected by a judge before they go to court, some would need a legal response, I can't think of anything that would be successful as long as x.org doesn't do anything remarkably stupid.

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    How could he buy a nonprofit? Wouldn't the X.Org Foundation's board violate the nonprofit's mission if it were to accept such an offer?
    – amon
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 12:59
  • Given enough money they can pay off everyone who complains. He bought Twitter which nobody wanted to sell by offering ridiculous money for 44 billion.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 14:05
  • 1
    @amon The non-profit's mission is to develop a graphics protocol. Taking a large sum of money and using it to further its goals, in exchange for a name change, may be a wise choice to further the project.
    – user71659
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 21:38
  • 1
    @amon the foundation might have a charter that prevents such, but it also might not
    – Trish
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 10:47

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