In 1985 when scientists Richard Smalley, Robert Curl, James Heath, Sean O’Brien, and Harold Kroto developed the first “fullerene”, a round molecule composed entirely of carbon, they decided the molecule looked alot like the geodesic domes which were made famous by legendary architect Buckminster Fuller and they named it the buckminsterfullerene. Read more about the discovery of Buckyballs.
Above you can see the the molecular structure of the buckminsterfullerene. Below are geodesic domes. You can easily see the similarity. The name buckminsterfullerene was later shortened to Buckyballs. This was likely the first time the term “Buckyballs” was used.
But the magnetic toys are not made of carbon, they are made of Neodymium. Neodymium is a “rare earth” element (it is just a name, the metal behind the magnet is not really rare) which has super magnetic strength. According to the Buckyballs website, since the magnetic toy can also be used to make a geodesic dome shapes, the company used the same name for the toy.
The magnetic toy was trade marked by a company owned by Maxfield and Oberton Holding in March 2009. But as with many products, people and imitators use the term generically (who wants to say “Neodymium magnetic toy”?). As imitators were being sold on Amazon using the name Buckyballs, in 2011 Maxfield and Oberton sued Amazon for violating their trademark. Download a Copy Of The Lawsuit Against Amazon
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