U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently sprung into action to intercept a collection of AirPods knockoffs arriving at JFK International Airport. Had the “merchandise [been] genuine,” the shipment would have been worth $398,000.
“The interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily,” said Troy Miller, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations.
The only problem? They weren’t counterfeit products at all — but rather the distinctly AirPods-looking OnePlus Buds.
THAT'S NOT AN —
CBP officers at JFK Airport recently seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine.
— CBP (@CBP) September 14, 2020
“Those aren’t counterfeit AirPods, f*********,” wrote one Twitter user in response to the tweet. “They’re a legitimate product. It’s just that the design has been closely copied. You stole legitimate goods.”
Even OnePlus got in on the action. “Hey, give those back!” the company’s U.S. representative tweeted, with an upside-down smiley face emoji.
AirPods and the OnePlus Buds
Apple introduced its crazily high-selling AirPods in late 2016. Other companies quickly rushed to release their own versions, many “borrowing” from the distinctive Apple design. OnePlus released its OnePlus Buds this year. The wireless OnePlus Buds earbuds ship in a case reminiscent of the AirPods. They are priced at $79. That gives the total haul of 2,000 units a market value of $158,000 (rather than the $398,000 listed by CBP, believing it had stumbled upon knockoff AirPods.)
To be fair to the CBP, the design of the OnePlus Buds is similar to Apple’s AirPods. Stopping the importing of counterfeit Apple electronics is a big challenge, too. Legitimate fakes (if that makes sense) can pose a safety risk, while also having a detrimental impact on the economy by stopping legitimate companies from benefitting from their own products.
Apple has its own dedicated webpage for customers who think they might have received counterfeit goods. It lets people submit images and other details so that Apple can work to crack down on such fakes. But just don’t submit any images of the OnePlus Buds. If Apple really has an issue with them, that’s something for the courts to solve; not for customs to decide on.