Elon Musk under attack over use of potter's farting unicorn image

01 July, 2018, 10:09 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Elon Musk has been unapologetic about the use of the artwork saying it would have boosted Edwards mug sales and that the artist was'lame if he chose to sue him

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he should have set more aggressive production timelines for the Model 3 sedan.

Tom Edwards created an image of a unicorn powering an electric vehicle with its own fart in 2010 and put it on ceramic mugs.

"I realize my farting unicorn is not as serious as whistleblowers", Edwards said, "but honestly, it's all about integrity".

Edwards told Westword that Musk's tweet of his mug resulted in about 100 sales.

Elon Musk said in now-deleted tweets that his inclusion of the mug in Tesla's branding was advantageous for Edwards. The Tesla CEO didn't credit the image, however, leading many outlets to assume Musk drew the cartoon himself.

He has since released a new line of mugs in revenge, which feature Elon Musk and the words 'Tesla stole my unicorn'. Recent safety concerns have brought regulatory scrutiny upon Tesla's technology, including concerns about autopilot functionality and more recent concerns about batteries reigniting after a crash. And the company even included the unicorn in its 2017 Christmas card. "We never negotiated that".

At this point, Edwards called a few lawyers, though pretty much anyone could have identified this textbook case of copyright infringement.

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Tesla declined to comment on the situation.

Edwards' daughter Lisa Prank believes the art was "ripped off" by Musk, who said he had offered to pay.

Musk claims that the image was made by Twitter user Nik Jovanovic, and that it was chosen at random by his software team, "as a joke".

The row continued with Prank stating that her father's "creative property [was being used] for a year without credit or compensation", before asking Musk if he thought "artists deserve to be paid for their work?" and directing him to a letter from the family's lawyer.

"Was actually someone else's drawing of a unicorn on hidden Tesla sketch pad app & we gained no financial benefit", Musk tweeted. But there were a couple of tweets that didn't paint him in a great light, including saying that he had given the artist exposure and generated thousands of dollars for him, and then saying the drawing was "something we don't even want". He said Mr Edwards should be happy "this attention increased his mug sales".

As of Wednesday, the unicorn still appeared on the Tesla touchscreen and after The Guardian published its report, Musk sent another since deleted tweet to the artist's daughter saying he "popularized" the mug "for free" and wanted to know "how much money does your dad want for this awful transgression?"

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