By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4) — A Colorado potter is in an argument with Elon Musk over a farting unicorn.

Yes, you read that right. It’s a battle first reported by Westword.

Tom Edwards makes unique and playful pottery from his home studio in Evergreen. One of his creations takes a mythical aim at electric cars, and it’s turned him into an internet sensation.

unicorn farts 10pkg frame 320 Farting Unicorn Sparks Legal Battle Between Local Artist And Elon Musk

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“This is a design I’ve been doing since 2010,” Edwards said.

unicorn farts 10pkg frame 640 Farting Unicorn Sparks Legal Battle Between Local Artist And Elon Musk

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With a laugh, Edwards explained to CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann what’s on the colorful mug featuring a gassy unicorn.

unicorn farts 10pkg frame 769 Farting Unicorn Sparks Legal Battle Between Local Artist And Elon Musk

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“Okay, this is a natural bodily function. The unicorn is farting into this container and then it’s going through a cord and powering the electric car,” he said smiling. “It says, ‘Electric cars are good for the environment because electricity comes from magic.’”

The whimsical creation caught the eye of Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur behind Tesla Motors. He took to Twitter about the tooter last February.

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“He said it was quite possibly his favorite mug ever,” Edwards said.

Edwards told CBS4 he was initially happy about the billionaire’s tweet – it gave him a small boost in sales.

“I sold about 50 mugs from that tweet,” he said. “It seemed like the perfect person to promote my design. I was really happy that he did that.”

But a couple months later, Edwards got wind Tesla was using a copy of his bottom-blasting unicorn to promote the cars’ new operating system.

“[Elon Musk] tweeted again, only this time it was a copy of my artwork,” Edwards explained.

It was a tweet about the launch of a sketchpad program, Edwards added, and the unicorn drawing was used to feature what users can do with it.

unicorn farts 10pkg frame 1632 Farting Unicorn Sparks Legal Battle Between Local Artist And Elon Musk

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“So all last year people were sending me pictures like, ‘Hey, I was in the Tesla showroom and I saw your artwork,’” Edwards said.

Edwards didn’t go after the company then because he said a friend advised him that even though it was copyright infringement, it is “pretty hard to go after a company like that.”

“The straw that broke the camel’s back was at Christmas [Tesla] sent out a Christmas greeting and it had my artwork on it,” Edwards said.

That’s when Edwards hired a lawyer to reach out to Tesla for compensation.

“I made it my New Year’s resolution to do something about this,” he said.

About a month ago, Edwards said his attorney sent the company a letter hoping to start a conversation. With no response weeks later, Edwards’ daughter let it rip on Twitter.

“She said, ‘Hey, how come you’re not compensating my dad?” Edwards said of the tweet.

Before deleting his blows back at Robin Edwards – who is a musician and goes by her stage name Lisa Prank on Twitter – Elon Musk called Tom Edwards ‘kinda lame’ if he chose to sue for money. The billionaire also claimed he’s who made the unicorn mugs popular, giving Edwards free promotion, but would stop using the artwork if that’s what Edwards wanted.

“That’s not the point,” Edwards said. “The point is they’ve already used it and that’s how copyright works. It’s not like you can use a Bruce Springsteen song for your commercial and say, ‘Oh, we’ll just stop running that commercial on TV.’ No, you already used it. Artists need to protect their work.”

Edwards isn’t sure yet how much his lawyer will seek for compensation. He just wants to defend his hand-crafted creations.

“I think the only real solution is if Tesla Motors negotiates with us and gives us compensation for that artwork,” he said. “It’s really hard to establish the value of that now they’ve gotten a year or so worth of use out of it. And actually, I’d like him to keep using it. I think that would be great. It’s not like I want to take it away, I just think they need to do the right thing.”

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.

Comments (6)
  1. Your website seems to have a bug. You have an autoplaying video with sound. No way you would be stupid enough to do that on purpose.

    Hope you can get that fixed.

  2. Super disappointed in Tesla’s casual attitude in regards to art theft. Yeah, okay, the art in question looks like a toddler’s afternoon doodle, but “well we retweeted it once so that makes it okay for us to use it in promotional material” is complete BS. You want to use an artist’s work, you COMPENSATE that artist. It’s no different than any other product or service.

  3. Pam Hartley says:

    Elon likes ethics, here’s a good opportunity for him to learn about both ethics and law as pertains to artist’s creations.

  4. That’s shameful and arrogant behavior on Musk’s part. With all of the intellectual property that Musk owns, he has no excuse for ignoring copyright law. I hope the Chinese are taking the same liberties with his patents.

  5. Man, that Elon Musk–that guy’s a real jerk

  6. Mac Shadix says:

    Musk should pay the artist for his work. Then use his artwork to sell mugs to Musk’s faithful fanboys. Recoup his costs, use artwork he likes, retain his positive image and support protection of intellectual property. Although Musk is disrupting powerful interests he is not a jerk. Until this.

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