By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Magnetic toys called Buckyballs, which can be swallowed and have been blamed for numerous injuries, are being recalled at the end of a years-long legal fight, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Thursday.
Millions of the loose, high-powered rare earth magnets were sold as toys and desktop accessories. When swallowed, their powerful attraction can pinch or trap intestines and require surgery to remove.
Under a settlement accord, owners of Buckyballs and similar Buckycubes can obtain refunds through a trust overseen by the CPSC, the agency said in a statement. Craig Zucker, co-founder of the former distributor of Buckyballs, Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, will fund the trust.
"This recall is intended to protect children and teenagers from the risk of injury that can occur when more than one magnet is ingested," it said.
A refund can be requested through an online site, BuckyballsRecall.com. The deadline for submitting a refund request is Jan. 17.
The magnets went on the market in 2009 and numerous incidents were reported involving children. In January 2011, a 4-year-old boy had his intestine perforated when he swallowed magnets he thought were candy, the CPSC has said.
The CPSC filed an administrative complaint in July 2012 against Maxfield and Oberton seeking a recall.
Zucker was added to the complaint last year after the company shut down. The CPSC in May approved a settlement agreement reached between Zucker and commission staff.
More than 2 million Buckyball toys and at least 200,000 Buckycubes, a similar cube-shaped magnet, have been sold in the United States, the CPSC has said. They were made in China.
"Buckyball" also is used to refer to a molecule known as Buckminsterfullerne, named for architect and geodesic dome proponent Buckminster Fuller.
(The story is corrected to clarify identification of Zucker in paragraph 3.)
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Trott)