The Denver-based Zen Magnets was almost brought down by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) over its high-powered, neodymium magnets, ‘neoballs’. The government called them unsafe. But, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the first CPSC ruling in 32 years in Zen’s favor.
Federal consumer safety regulators first came after Zen Magnets in 2012, along with 12 other companies. They were ordered to cease the manufacture, import and distribution of magnet spheres over safety concerns.
Zen Magnets fought the order. By 2014, the CPSC had banned the magnets. The 10th Circuit overturned the ban. But, Zen would still be ordered to destroy half-a-million Zen Magnets, a process which can be seen in the video linked below:
Reads the videos narrator: “Perhaps [the neoballs] sacrifice will someday inspire an interesting discussion or two in a law or philosophy classroom, regarding what exactly these magnets are in their bare essence as opposed to what box they happen to occupy at the moment, what label happens to be affixed to that box.”
The magnets were ultimately destroyed. Qu had spent $200,000 on them. Not only was Zen Magnets the first to overturn a CPSC ruling in 32 years, but also the first to defeat a CPSC ruling in more than 20 years.
“It’s been a giant red tape-lined pain in the butt,” Zen Magnets founder Shihan Qu told me for an article published at Zen Magnets. “Magnicube didn’t want to deal with fighting so they settled and recalled and we purchased their excess inventory. CPSC then said we were therefore selling a recalled product, and had technically ‘violated’ our competitor’s settlement agreement.”
Zen bids adieu to the magnets: “And so it is that we destroy these perfectly good magnet spheres — may you one day be re-forged as part of a spaceship to affect your ultimate homecoming among the supernovas that once begat you, billions of years ago.”