LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville intercepted eight different shipments described as Bluetooth audio devices and discovered 817 pairs of earbuds that appeared to be in violation of Apple’s protected AirPods three-dimensional configuration trademark. Officers reached out to Import Specialists from CBP’s Electronics Center of Excellence and Expertise who ultimately determined the merchandise was not genuine and violated Apple’s recorded trademark rights.
Apple has configuration trademarks on their AirPods products and has recorded those trademarks with CBP. Furthermore, a company does not have to put the “Apple” wordmark or design on their products to violate the three-dimensional trademark. In this instance, further inspection of the earbuds revealed that their shape and design were identical to the Apple AirPods configuration trademark.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price would have been $331,360 had these been genuine. All of the indicted shipments were coming from Hong Kong and were destined for various locations such as: Georgia, New York, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey and Quebec City, Canada.
“E-commerce is a growing segment of the U.S. economy, driven by high-volume, low-value shipments entering our ports of entry,” said Thomas Mahn, Port Director-Louisville. “Our officers are committed to protecting our citizens and enforcing U.S. laws to make sure legal trade continues but illicit shipments like this one do not reach unsuspecting consumers.”
“Counterfeiters are savvy and follow trends in consumer demand, including the high demand for consumer electronics during the pandemic,” said John P. Leonard, CBP Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Trade. “Consumers should exercise extreme caution when purchasing wireless headphones and other electronic accessories from third parties, as counterfeit electronics from China have been found to contain malware that infects the consumer’s phone, tablet, or computer.”
In examining imports of counterfeit Airpods CBP has determined that nearly all of devices can pair with genuine Apple, Inc. iPhones. This linkage should be extremely concerning to all consumers.
CBP has made other significant seizures of counterfeit Airpods at other Ports of Entry. Just last month, in two separate seizures CBP officers in Cincinnati seized one shipment containing 36,000 fake Airpods and a week later seized another shipment containing 23,900 fake Airpods.
Consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods:
- Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers
- When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller
- Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers
- Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is
To report information concerning counterfeit merchandise illegally imported into the United States, CBP encourages individuals to submit an anonymous report through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violations Reporting System.