Image: Twitter / @CBP

Earlier today, the US Customs and Border Protection seized what it calls “2,000 counterfeit Apple Airpod Earbuds” from the cargo facility at the John F. Kennedy International Airport that came from Hong Kong and was headed for Nevada. The seizure was labeled as a “direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily.” The official CBP Twitter handle even tweeted its latest success story with pictures of the “counterfeit AirPods.” As soon as it happened, an online furor that was loaded with ridicule erupted because the goods seized by the US customs were not the cheap knock-offs that you can easily find on Amazon or a local electronics shop. Instead, they were OnePlus Buds – genuine wireless earbuds launched by a well-known Chinese company.

The OnePlus Buds are already available to buy in the US, which raises the question as to why they were seized. On the surface, it appears to be a mistake at differentiating a legal product from another one that is heavily copied in the counterfeit market. However, some are questioning whether it was a deliberate attempt to generate some political heat by seizing products of a Chinese company at a time when US-China trade relations are strained. But the response of the agency is simply bewildering. In a statement given to The Verge, the US CBP mentioned that the seized OnePlus Buds violate Apple’s AirPods trademarks when it comes to their general appearance.

AirPods (Left, white background) vs OnePlus Buds (Right, black background)

“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,” an agency spokesperson was quoted as saying. “Based on that determination, CBP officers at JFK Airport have seized the shipment under 19 USC 1526 (e).” In case you are wondering, configuration trademark laws cover the goods that are identical or substantially indistinguishable from a genuine trademarked product. Well, the OnePlus Buds do look a bit like the AirPods, but they are not knock-offs by any means, neither are they identical or substantially indistinguishable and are legally sold without trademark violation in the US and elsewhere in the world.

I’ve been writing about consumer technology for over three years now, having worked with names such as NDTV and Beebom in the past. Aside from covering the latest news, I’ve reviewed my fair share of devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I also have interviewed tech execs and appeared as a host in YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets out there.
You May Also Like
Samsung’s 82-inch QLED Q70T series is $602 off, more deals are also available
We have more amazing deals from Amazon.com, where you will find massive Samsung Smart TVs, LG monitors and more devices on sale
iPhone 12 Pro Max colors
Get a new iPhone 11 Pro and the Apple Watch Series 6 with up to $249 savings
Today’s best Apple deals come from Woot and Amazon, where we find the iPhone 11 Pro, the 11 Pro Max and several Watch Series 6 models on sale
Pixel Watch leak claims to give us first glimpse of Google’s upcoming smartwatch
Google’s Pixel Watch has been a stuff of leaks and rumors for a few years now, but a fresh leak suggests October might be when it arrives.