Volkswagen Keeps Having To Be Reminded It Doesn't Own The Word "Beetle"

As I’ve made abundantly clear, I’m very fond of Volkswagen Beetles, especially the old air-cooled ones. There are also a substantial number of much, much older, also air-cooled beetles in the world, and these have nothing to do with Volkswagen. Volkswagen seems to forget this every now and then, based on the times that it’s filed takedown requests for works from artist and scientist Peggy Muddles who produces artwork with beetles.

As in the kind made by other beetles getting it on, and not by VW.

Muddles received her first takedown request in December of 2017, targeting some works she did involving rove beetles (family Staphylinidae) on the website RedBubble. Muddles received two more takedown requests very recently this year, prompting her to have her lawyer send VW a letter with this sick burn:

“the beetles that are the subject matter of our client’s works of art evolved over 300 million years ago, pre-dating the fine motor vehicles manufactured by your company by approximately 300 million years.”

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While VW apologized and rescinded the takedown request, it’s a bit ridiculous it happened at all, let alone three times. Most likely, the takedown requests were the result of an automated system designed to find infringements online, and it took some human eyes and brains to set things right.

So, maybe the good news here is that if you’re worried about AI taking over, you can probably relax, at least until these things can understand the difference between an image of an insect and one of a car.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)