Legalizing Electric-Car Kingpin's 'Founder' Fetish

Tesla CEO Elon Musk likes to call himself "founder" of companies he didn't actually start. This weird fetish has never been fully safe and legal, until now: The real founder of Tesla Motors is dropping his lawsuit and granting permission.

Presumably, Martin Eberhard's acquiescence comes at a price. The ousted electric-car-company founder sued Musk (pictured) for libel, slander and breach of contract barely three months ago following months of building tensions. After Tesla won hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid and started putting its affairs in order, Eberhard dropped his suit, and now the two sides have confirmed a deal, according to the blog Legal Pad.

Among many other allegations, Eberhard's suit had disputed Musk's right to call himself a founder, since he wasn't around for the actual birth of the company, while Musk claimed he could call himself that because he did so much to help the company in its early years, a dubious definition he also used to call himself a "co-founder" of PayPal. Eberhard has surrendered, and not just in a grudging manner: In an official statement, according to Legal Pad, he writes, "As co-founder of the company, Elon's contributions to Tesla have been extraordinary." Yes, Musk has made extraordinary contributions, not just managerially, but linguistically, as well.

(Musk pic: JD Lasica)