The dispute began in February 2017, when Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter and posted an image of a mug, featuring a unicorn farting energy into a car. “Maybe my favorite mug ever,” wrote Musk. The artist behind the mug, Tom Edwards, initially reacted with excitement upon first seeing Musk’s post—and the resulting uptick in sales of the mug, which he first created in 2010.
However, subsequent posts gave Edwards pause. Last March, Musk used a recreation of the unicorn drawing to show off a new feature on Teslas’ touch screens which allows users to turn them into a sketchpad (news reports initially wrongly stated the drawing was Musk’s). Edwards later discovered that the sketch had been incorporated into a Christmas message from Musk that displayed on Tesla-owners’ touchscreens during the holiday season and as an icon in the Tesla operating system. This, Edwards felt, and lawyers reportedly confirmed to him, crossed the line into copyright infringement.
“It’s part of their branding now,” the artist told
. “I love the fact that it’s in the cars, but I just want them to do the right thing and pay me adequately for it. Elon Musk can be a hero for standing up for artists’ rights.” Rather than filing a lawsuit, Edwards aimed to settle the dispute amicably—and with a sense of humor.
As the Guardian reports: