Zen Magnets is now the last surviving magnet sphere company still selling, standing, and fighting in the United States.
We’re at a critical crossroads between two options.
Behind Door #1: Shutdown & Stop-sales.
This makes the most sense from a business perspective. We exit the business as soon as possible with as much as possible, at the recommendation of nearly every lawyer and consultant we’ve talked to. We comply. We recall. The unique “Warnings don’t work” argument goes unchallenged in court. Nobody else stands in the way of the magnet ban rule-making. The CPSC sets the precedent of dodging the most public objection the agency has ever received for any single action item. The CPSC wins it’s gamble.
Behind Door #2: All-In for the Conscience.
Fight for: Warnings and Consent, Democracy, and beautiful spherical magnets. Because how others treat you is their Karma, but how you react is your Karma. Because the beauty and wonder that magnets generate is worth a rescue effort. Magnet spheres work exactly as they are supposed to, and nearly everybody (over 99.99%) is able to use them safely. Statistical polls show consumers would rather see a ban of tobacco, than an all-ages nation-wide non-consensual market removal of magnet sets used for art and education. We can sleep without regret, knowing that as the last company standing, Zen Magnets fought for what was right.
Nothing rational lies in between these two options, as costs and cortisol levels only go up from here on.
The paramount issue in this case is the CPSC’s argument that warnings don’t work, alleging that “No warnings or instructions could be devised that would effectively communicate the [ingestion] hazard so that the warnings and instructions could be understood and heeded by consumers to reduce the number of magnet ingestion incidents.” (Second Amended Complaint, ¶ 89) This issue alone makes an influential case with vast implications, as warnings are the traditional method used to encourage public safety.
Warnings are an agreement between a customer and product. The consumer retains the benefit of using and choosing a product, in exchange for the responsibility of doing so. And by assuming people are unable to follow or understand instructions — despite the lack of confirmed injuries linked to Zen Magnets — the CPSC makes the judgment that the American Population is not worthy or capable of deciding for themselves. By alleging that magnets “have low utility to customers” (SAC¶ 105) and are “not necessary to consumers” (SAC¶ 106) is non-consensually replacing a consumer’s judgment with a value judgement of it’s own.
It does not matter if you are a parent who knows your child can safely handle magnets. It does not matter if you don’t have children and want to use magnets at your own home. It does not matter if you’re a professor looking to build sculptures for demonstrations of molecular bonding or platonic solids. The CPSC is seeking no middle ground on the subject, and assumes with great prejudice, that the American population cannot be trusted to ever keep magnets out of the mouths of their children. As if magnets are the first product to be dangerous if misused by an audience it is not intended for.
Then there’s the fact that removing magnet sets from the market is the single most unpopular action item ever sought by the CPSC. And isolated from all other points, this fact alone warrants that the federal agency be challenged. Even those who are not interested in magnets (yet) will still have a vested interest in the accountability of their Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A peek at comments on related news will show a clear consensus against magnet prohibition. Statistically, PPP and Google Consumer Surveys have shown 9/10 consumers disagree artistic educational magnet sets should be prohibited to all ages. As required for the rule-making process*, the CPSC must receive public comments. In the rule-making for magnets, they received over 2,500 comments which were nearly all against banning magnets. These 2,500 comments represent more than half the comments ever received by the agency in its history.
And while we’ve received countless messages of encouragement, CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler reports to having received thousands of emails angry emails in objection. Adler, the reappointed chairman of the CPSC, “considers himself a pragmatist” and says he’s concerned about “resentment among members of the public.” When confronted about balloons having a greater incident rate than magnet spheres while sharing similar warning attributes, Adler says “we should be looking at balloons [too.]”
Magnet spheres are not defective, they work exactly as they are supposed to. Strong to hold formation. Round to allow connections at non-fixed angles. Used en masse for endless possibilities. There is absolutely no replacement or substitute for magnet spheres, nothing has the same dynamic tactile abilities that magnet spheres do. And to say that the appeal of magnets, is itself a problem, is entirely throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The harm of products can be categorized in to three groups. There are products that are meant to cause harm. These are products like guns, pepper spray, brass knuckles, tasers, warships, and most other products that come out of the military industrial complex. There are products that may be reasonably expected cause harm, even if used responsibly. Alcohol, tobacco, trampolines, skateboards, ATVs, skis, snowboards. Things with warnings that say “Using this is inherently dangerous”. And then there are products that are only dangerous if misused. This is the category that every other product falls under, including magnet spheres. Anything can cause harm if misused.
By forcefully insisting on a comprehensive ban, instead of negotiating age labeling, or collaborating on an educational campaign, this becomes no longer a legal discussion about safety. This is about the US Government’s stance on whether or not art and education is a valid use for magnets, when it has no right to usurp the decision of “usefulness” from individuals in the first place. Having built a business on strong spherical magnets, we’ve seen first-hand that art and education are not only valid uses, but some of the best uses for magnets.
Vow to Fight
Take this as official notice that Zen Magnets LLC is going All-in, and taking “Door #2″ as described above. We will not settle for any sort of stop-sale of magnets that are perfectly safe when not misused. The hearing is set for December, and we are committed to taking this influential case to trial.
We vow to continue this legal, awareness, and lobbying battle, until our very last drop of cash-flow blood. We will combat the CPSC’s magnet prohibition until triumph, or until a glorious death of insolvency on the legal battlefield. At the very least, we’ll have one more holiday season of availability.
Magnets must be respected, but need not be feared.
Founder, Zen Magnets
*It’s important to understand that the CPSC’s attempted to remove magnets from the US market is two pronged. The lawsuit is to force a recall & stop sale. Then there is the rulemaking, which tries to enact the ban. The CPSC won’t be able to ban magnets until after the lawsuit ends (or else risk showing prejudice as the appellant body of the complaint.) Were we to stop fighting, the magnet ban would pass with nobody left to push back.