They say that academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low. Well, welcome to the next level.

Zen Magnets, a maker of neodymium magnet toys, has been under assault by the much larger and better distributed Buckyballs, maker of a nearly identical toy. After Zen Magnets listed a couple of eBay auctions with a set of Buckyballs and a set of their own, asking customers to decide which was of higher quality, Buckyballs replied with a legal threat. Zen Magnets countered with an open video response, in which they presented the voicemail from Buckyballs and demonstrated their claims of quality through repeatable, factual tests, providing quantitative data to back up their assertions. Soon after, Buckyballs CEO Jake Bronstein got the video taken down from YouTube via a DMCA takedown, despite the fact that the only elements not made by Zen Magnets are the voicemail he left and some images of himself, which are low-resolution and publicly available online. Zen Magnets has decided to file a counter-takedown notice — not effective yet apparently, since the video is still marked as taken down. Mirror:

There is some serious OCD in that video. Also, that dude talks just like the principal on Daria: "Hello students of Lawwwwwwwwwndale High."

I have a set of Buckyballs. They aren't as much fun as you'd think. It's hard to build anything other than a pyramid or a tube.

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12 Responses:

  1. for some insane reason this actually made me want to buy a set of those zen magnets. kurt has the buckyballs and i can't stop fidgeting with them every time i'm at his place.

  2. pikuorguk says:

    I've got a set of buckyballs (well, OEM equivalent) and they're sat on my mantlepiece along with a PowerBall and some of those wooden carved puzzles.

    The buckyballs lost their interest once I worked out how to make the cube again every time.

    • I thought that would happen to me too, boringness from repeated cubing. Actually, I think they stay pretty fun once you start making all kinds of hexagonal stuff with 9-sphere triangles.

  3. lafinjack says:

    I made a Pyramid Head mask:

  4. anktastic says:

    The Buckyballs dude looks exactly like a long-haired Sylar.

  5. mtbg says:

    "It's hard to build anything other than a pyramid or a tube."

    One of my coworkers built a (small) suspension bridge. A group of coworkers spent some quality time trying to string a chain of Buckyballs between the overhead lights. We probably lost several engineer-weeks to those things before the novelty wore off.

  6. antabakalj says:

    You can build a soccer ball. It's what I did a few days ago.
    Use 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons to recreate the classic 1974 Telstar ball.

    Leaves you with 36 spare balls you can build - of course - a pyramid with.

    Alternatively, create two hollow octahedrons and have 12 balls spare.

    Need to take pictures...

  7. klarfax says:

    These things always make me nervous that some will inevitably find their way inside my 1-year-old and stick his intestines together.