A DIGG.COM submission seems to have found a prior patented magnetic "safe power cord" used on deep fryers:
From the CNN article:
The standard, developed by Underwriters Laboratories, was announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission Wednesday. The "break-away" standard also applies to electric fondue and electric multi-purpose pots.
The new cord is connected to the fryer by a magnet. If the cord is pulled, it will break away from the fryer, preventing it from tipping over and reducing the chances of spilling hot grease.
Full story from 2001 can be found here.
MagSafe is Apple's new power adapter technology found on MacBook and MacBook Pros that safely disconnects if pulled quickly - saving the power connector port from damage.
[UPDATE] Hard to know whether or not the "body" that developed the "break away" magnetic cord, Underwriters Laboratories, actually has a patent on the technology or simply developed it to be used by electrical device manufacturers "free of charge". A comment noted that the word "patent" does not appear to be associated within the CNN article and I went to Underwriters Laboratories website where the word patented or licensed doesn't seem to appear either.