US Customs Border Patrol scored a mega bust late last month when they intercepted 2,000 fake Apple AirPods… or so they claimed.
Agents posted pictures of their haul; the only problem was the wireless headphones appeared to be OnePlus Buds… a completely legitimate rival product.
“THAT’S NOT AN (apple emoji)” the tweet bragged — quite accurately.
“CBP officers at JFK Airport recently seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine.”
The “dodgy” pods, it explained, were destined for Nevada at an air cargo facility located at John F. Kennedy International Airport — but were stopped on August 31.
“CBP Officers are protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis,” Troy Miller, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations said in a statement. “The interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily.”
OnePlus Technology, a Chinese tech company that boasts $1.4billion in annual revenue — some of which comes from its perfectly legal sale of OnePlus Buds here in the United States — poked a bit of fun in a reply on Twitter.
“Hey, give those back!” it tweeted.
However, despite looking like an embarrassing blunder, CBP doubled down on its decision, claiming the product violated Apple’s trademark… even though Apple itself has not sued the company.
“Upon examining the shipment in question, a CBP import specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple’s configuration trademark,” a spokesman told The Verge in a follow up statement. “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).”
This explains why the agent didn’t appear to recognize from the box or its branding that it was a completely different product.
“CBP’s seizure of the earbuds in question is unrelated to the images or language on the box,” they said. “A company does not have to put an ‘Apple’ wordmark or design on their products to violate these trademarks.”
OnePlus — or whoever it was who imported the Buds — “will have many opportunities through the adjudication process to provide evidence that their product does not violate the relevant recorded trademarks,” CBP said.
Aside from its hilarious tweet, OnePlus has yet to comment on the situation.