Product Liability

CPSC Still Trying to Crush Small Round Magnet Toys; Last Surviving American Seller Zen Magnets Fights Back

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Reason has long been on the beat regarding the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission's apparent vendetta against the little round magnets which were perhaps most famously sold by the company Maxfield & Oberton as "buckyballs," which you can use to form fascinating shapes.

We've reported extensively on the very personal way they went after Craig Zucker, CEO of Maxfield & Oberton. Zucker gave up and settled with the CPSC for a fine earlier this year. This was after Zucker, unlike most people targeted by CPSC, made fun of their crusade against his product publicly.

zen magnets

The CPSC wants those products off the market entirely, believing they represent an unacceptable risk to people who might eat them—not the recommend use, natch. The CPSC does not believe that warnings on the product or restricting their sale to above a certain age is good enough.

But one maker of the toys is still fighting against an CPSC lawsuit trying to drive them out of business as well.

Here's how the surviving fighter, of Zen Magnets from Colorado, describes their product and its uses, for those unfamiliar with their wonders:

small but curiously strong rare earth super-magnets, 5mm in diameter. How powerful? 8 Times more powerful than the ceramic magnets driving your speakers. 30 Times more powerful than the average fridge magnet.

Pull them into a chain, fold them into a fabric, and meld them into limitless shapes: both abstract and geometric, flat or 3D. Use them when you need to massage your mind, practice your patience, relieve some boredom or alleviate some stress.

Shihan Qu, who runs Zen Magnets, said to me in a written statement about his still-ongoing struggle:

I have two very distinct but related motives for continuing this fight.

The first one is obvious. I want to win. I want to keep selling magnets. I want to continue seeing the passion, joy, and inspiration they bring. I want to stay in business. I want to see a victory for magnets.

But number two, I want the CPSC to LOSE. I really really want them to lose. They need some humility and to be reminded of the standard of liberty in this country.

The single biggest issue that must be challenged, the aspect that makes this a landmark case, is that this is the first time the CPSC is arguing that warnings don't work, which has incredibly vast policy implications. Putting warnings on this is mostly what the CPSC does. Small parts, choking hazards, etc.

Warnings are a sort of agreement a customer accepts upon use of a product. And by assuming that people cannot follow—by the way, there is still nobody who can confirm even a single Zen Magnet ingestion incident—instructions to keep magnets away from children and mouths, they are assuming the American Population is not capable of deciding for themselves. They are taking your right to consent, and fleecing your freedom to do as you will.

We're the last line of defense, and if Zen Magnets doesn't stand up, the CPSC gains a remarkable amount of power from consumers. They show the ability to determine behind their closed walls, what America can and can't have, despite roaring public opposition. They set the precedence of creating an all-ages, nation-wide ban, with the assumption that an American cannot be "expected" to understand or follow warnings.

The fight is ongoing. The legal fight Qu is currently involved in, including ongoing weeks of depositions, is over the CPSC's suing for a recall from Zen Magnets, in a case heard by an administrative law judge. When that procedure is done, the CPSC will go ahead with its attempt to ban the products entirely via rulemaking. If Qu loses the first round, he has to appeal to a CPSC board; only after that can he take the matter to the federal court system.

Zen Magnets sponsors a website dedicated to the cause of keeping their product legal, Savemagnets.com.

At that site, Qu questions some of the CPSC's claims about the prevalance of harm caused by misuse of these magnet products.

The CPSC's online collection of documents related to the case.

The Denver Post on Zen Magnets' fight.

For what it's worth, a Public Policy Polling poll found only 6 percent of Americans supporting a total ban on the magnets.

The full Reason archive on the CPSC fight against these little magnets.

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  1. The CPSC is right. As soon as I get my hands on one of those things, I intend its off-label use and will ingest it. I vow this.

    1. Then, once you aren’t feeling so hot, go in for an MRI. Fireworks!

    2. And you can always shred their legal defense by arguing “foreseeable misuse”! You can’t go wrong!

  2. The first one is obvious. I want to win. I want to keep selling magnets. I want to continue seeing the passion, joy, and inspiration they bring. I want to stay in business. I want to see a victory for magnets.

    But number two, I want the CPSC to LOSE. I really really want them to lose. They need some humility and to be reminded of the standard of liberty in this country.

    I like the cut of your jib, Mr. Qu.

    1. You know who else will take an interest in his jib?

      1. Captain Tennille?

        1. Seaman Stains?

    2. The problem with Mr. Qu’s magnets is after you eat them you want to eat some more an hour later.

    3. I like the cut of your jib, Mr. Qu.

      If there were only some guys like this in the 60’s, we’d still have Jarts.

  3. *sigh*

    Well it looks like i am going to be buying some more fucking magnets.

    Why can’t these lawsuits be about sexbots?

    1. Seriously. I already have Freedom magnets, now a couple sets of these.

    2. Just ordered mine. I hope they arrive.

  4. “But one maker of the toys is still fighting against an CPSC lawsuit trying to drive them out of business as well.”

    Which reminds me:

    http://www.asterix.com/the-col…..-gaul.html

    1. one small village of indomitable ballls…

  5. The CPSC: fucking magnets, how do they work?

    1. Holy fuck. I knew the government was retarded, but I had no idea the government was ICP.

      Suddenly, everything I’ve seen government do over the course of my life makes sense.

      1. ICP is way more effective than the government. They actually make a ton of money and please their “customers”.

    2. The number of people in the world who can explain how magnets work is very tiny.

      1. Via the monopoles, dummy.

  6. How the fuck has a judge not laughed the CSPC’s bullshit right out of the courtroom?

    “So let me get this straight: You want to ban magnets. AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA fuck off dickbag.”

    1. It’s the regulator’s old friend, rational basis review.

      1. It’s a pretty real danger of considering precedent in law.

        If one’s allowed to make an infinite number of arguments in an infinite amount of stages, eventually shit goes full retard and all prospects of actual justice being delivered are reduced to nothing.

        1. Originally it was supposed to be a way to strike at judicial activism and rule by judges.

  7. OT: Question for the board. I was reading today that two lawmakers are introducing legislation to protect faith based adoption agencies that don’t want to place children in certain types of homes (the gayz I guess) from requirements that would make them do so.

    My inclination is to support this kind of legislation, who is the government to force this kind of thing on these private agencies (many of them do take government money for a variety of things, but I don’t think that shows anything here)?

    But of course for most libertarians children are a little different than adults, such that some regulations and restrictions on adults that deal with children and their well being might be acceptable. So I’m wondering, in a situation where there is a couple that meets whatever criteria exists for adoption, but fails in one respect by, for example, being same sex, and there is no other qualified adoptive couple lacking that offensive criteria, should an agency that does adoptions be required, for the good of the child, to make the adoption?

    1. should an agency that does adoptions be required, for the good of the child, to make the adoption?

      Why you trollin?

      The answer’s an obvious No.

      1. I’m not sure it’s obvious. I don’t know that restrictions on people in charge of children’s welfare are violations of libertarianism, and we are talking about a decision where the child in question at an orphanage or foster family rather than being adopted because the decision maker doesn’t like the gayz.

        1. Should read ‘stays at an orphanage or foster family…’

        2. Key word: decision maker.

          Its like me choosing to leave my kids (in case of my death) to my sister instead of my brother because he is gay. Or black. Or whatever.

          As legal guardian its my decision to transfer.

          Note: i have neither kids nor a brother.

        3. 1: You assume the child “belongs” to an individual agency, and isn’t part of a pool (for lack of better term) of children that any given number of agencies utilize.

          2: Agencies serve their clients, the clients do not serve the agency.

          3: As a service provider, the agency has the natural right to choose to serve (or not serve) whoever they wish for whatever reason pleases them.

          1. I think if a parent leaves their child to an agency or person then it certainly makes the presumption in favor of the person or agencies choice. But the presumption has to be rebuttable I think, because what if you leave your kid with an orphanage and the head of it just decides they don’t like the child and passes on perfectly acceptable parents for it, leaving the kid in an orphanage all it’s life? So while I’m not sure refusing a gay couple when no other is available overcomes that presumption, there had to be some much closer calls.

    2. I choose the answer that falls into the Byzantine trap you laid that gains your full snooty righteous indignation.

      1. Yes, one thing Corning never displays is heaping helpings of righteous indignation.

        1. Sure I will cop to that.

          But I don’t set traps for it.

        2. I have a better trap anyway:

          I see an attractive woman wearing scubs, probably a doctor, toss a coffee cup into the trash.

          Is it OK for me to take that coffee cup get her DNA from it mix it with my DNA into a stemcellembroyo thingy, grow a baby from it in some sort of synthetic womb and raise it as a Cathar even though i am not a Cathar and probably only have a romantic notion of what Catharism is and very little real working knowledge of it?

  8. So Elon Musk, that pro at grabbing tax money, seems to have settled on NV money:

    “Reno may have hit jackpot with Tesla Gigafactory lottery”
    http://www.sfgate.com/business…..660962.php

    Might have something to do with regs and labor, too.

    1. They’re leaving Jersey, right?

      Hard to see how Nevada could not be better on regs and labor than there.

  9. The way things are going, they are probably going to send him to Guantanamo and waterboard him.

  10. Hell hath no fury like a Federal Bueracracy Bitch scorned.

  11. Sounds like a verfy good plan.

    http://www.WentAnon.tk

  12. Another approach might be to market the magnets as bath salts, say, or potpourri.

  13. Dude makes a lot of sense dude.

    http://www.TotalAnon.tk

    1. High praise indeed, AnonBot.

  14. So looks like they have precedent for this kind of thing. Lead paint was unilateral banned by the CPSC in 1978.

    1. I once worked in an old (90+ years) hardware/paint store in Brooklyn. They have a few dozen gallons of red lead bottom paint sitting in a locked room down in the basement that, through a bizarre combination of local, state, and federal regulations, may never be moved. Can’t sell it, can’t give it away, can’t transport it on city streets, can’t use it, can’t pour it down the drain, nothing.

      1. l0b0t|8.1.14 @ 12:20AM|#
        “I once worked in an old (90+ years) hardware/paint store in Brooklyn. They have a few dozen gallons of red lead bottom paint sitting in a locked room down in the basement…”

        I dated a woman who became an ‘environmental lawyer’, and when we met again after she had gained that position, she bragged about passing laws preventing people from disposing of old ‘stuff’.
        I asked whether she understood that the laws meant the ‘stuff’ would still be trashed, but now in ways she would not prefer.
        The answer told me why we were “exes”; she simply said that they would pass more laws to prevent that.
        I did get a piece that night…

        1. Ideologically addled co-eds were the best thing about university. Although enjoying the local mushrooms and careening about on a pedal-bike or playing live action Space Hulk in the utility tunnels under campus were great fun as well.

        2. Too bad you weren’t into necrophilia.

  15. I wish him the best of luck, but the stone cold bitch who runs CSPS is going to mount his head on a pike, since he didn’t learn his place from the first example.

  16. I’d love to fill the entire CPSC building with these things, floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Oh, to be President…

  17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39XEBPAcJ9k

    Ah, a video of a revolver made with the magnets! What more proof do you need 😉

  18. But number two, I want the CPSC to LOSE. I really really want them to lose. They need some humility and to be reminded

    Aw shit, you just made it personal for them, and they have infinite resources and the force of gov’t behind them. I’m eternally hopeful, but I doubt making a personal fight out of it will end well for him.

  19. ~scraps plans for novelty drain cleaner business…

  20. Stick it to them Qu.

  21. Buckyballs are powerful magnetic constructors milled from a Neodymium compound – the world’s strongest permanent magnet.

    https://sites.google.com/site/buckyballstoys

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