What? U.S. Customs Seize Legitimate OnePlus Buds as ‘Fake AirPods’

OnePlus Buds OnePlus Response Credit: Mr. Mikla / Shutterstock
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In a strange string of events, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced it recently had seized a shipment of counterfeit AirPods. The only problem? The earbuds were not fakes. They were manufactured by the well-known Android phone and accessory maker OnePlus.

The story started last Friday when CBP boasted it had intercepted a shipment of 2,000 AirPod knockoffs. If these were genuine, they would be worth almost $400K, claimed CBP in a press release.

On August 31, CBP officers seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple Airpod Earbuds from Hong Kong destined for Nevada at an air cargo facility located at John F. Kennedy International Airport. If the merchandise were genuine, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) would have been $398,000.

“CBP Officers are protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis,” said Troy Miller, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations. “The interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily.”

US Customs and Border Protection

As noticed by many, these earbuds weren’t fake. They actually were legitimate OnePlus Buds destined for the US marketplace. The CBP images unmistakenly identify the seized earbuds as belonging to OnePlus. The branding is prominent right on the boxes.

The CBP even tweeted “That’s not an Apple” to announce its big score, and OnePlus USA responded hilariously with “Hey, give those back.”

OnePlus is making light of the subject on Twitter, but the company soon may soon change its tune. CBP confirmed on Monday to Android Police that it is not giving the earbuds back. In fact, the agency is keeping them because the agency claims the OnePlus Buds violate Apple’s configuration trademark for the AirPods.

“Upon examining the shipment in question, a CBP Import Specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple’s configuration trademark. Apple has configuration trademarks on their brand of earbuds, and has recorded those trademarks with CBP. Based on that determination, CBP Officers at JFK Airport have seized the shipment under 19 USC 1526 (e).

CBP’s seizure of the earbuds in question is unrelated to the images or language on the box. A company does not have to put an “Apple” wordmark or design on their products to violate these trademarks. The importer will have many opportunities through the adjudication process to provide evidence that their product does not violate the relevant recorded trademarks.”

US Customs and Border Protection

Apple, like most companies, has its trademarks for its AirPods on file with the CBP.

After reviewing the shipment, CBP decided that the OnePlus Buds violate Apple’s mark. This violation has nothing to do with the box or use of the word Apple on its packaging (which it doesn’t). It all comes down to appearance, and the OnePlus Buds apparently look too much like AirPods, according to the CBP.

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