US Customs seized 2,000 earphones made by OnePlus, an Apple competitor, calling them ‘counterfeit Apple AirPods’ and saying they violated Apple’s trademark

CBP oneplus buds airpods
CBP announced that it seized 'counterfeit Apple Airpods' along with photos of what are actually OnePlus Buds.
  • Customs and Border Protection boasted that it intercepted 2,000 'counterfeit Apple AirPods' entering the US from Hong Kong in an announcement posted Sunday night.
  • But the photos CBP included in its announcement don't show counterfeit AirPods — instead, they show OnePlus Buds, wireless headphones made by an Apple competitor.
  • "Hey, give those back," OnePlus tweeted in response to CBP's post. 
  • After publication, a CBP spokesperson told Business Insider that the agency determined the buds "appeared to violate Apple’s configuration trademark," which "is unrelated to the images or language on the box." 
  • Apple did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US Customs and Border Protection took to Twitter Sunday night to announce a recent bust: The agency said it had intercepted "2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine."

"The interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily," CBP's director of New York field operations Troy Miller said in the press release announcing the seizure.

But CBP also posted two images that didn't show AirPods, but rather OnePlus Buds, wireless headphones made by an Apple competitor.

People on Twitter were quick to point that out, including OnePlus' own account, which replied asking the agency to "give those back."

Business Insider reached out to both CBP and OnePlus for comment, neither of which immediately responded. But after publication, a CBP spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider that the agency determined OnePlus appeared to violate Apple's trademark. The spokesperson cited a law that bans the import of merchandise bearing a US company's trademark

"Upon examining the shipment in question, a CBP Import Specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple's configuration trademark," the CBP spokesperson said. "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 spokesperson added that "the importer will have many opportunities through the adjudication process to provide evidence that their product does not violate the relevant recorded trademarks."

In its announcement, CBP said that the 2,000 "counterfeit Apple AirPod earbuds" were seized at an air cargo facility in New York City en route from Hong Kong to Nevada. CBP estimated that the retail price for the AirPods would have been $398,000 "if the merchandise were genuine." But as The Verge points out, 2,000 units of OnePlus Buds for $79 each would total just $158,000.

While CBP claimed that the goods violate Apple's intellectual property rights, Apple has not lodged any such complaints against OnePlus. An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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