U.S. Customs Claimed to Have Seized 'Counterfeit AirPods' But They Were Just a Different Brand of Ear Buds

Turns out that OnePlus Buds are not counterfeit Apple AirPods but a legitimate brand of ear buds that look very similar.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Sep. 15 2020, Updated 8:25 a.m. ET

Anyone who lives in the world knows that once Apple (or any company) releases a successful product, plenty of other companies copy the design for their own products. It's not the most creative strategy, but as long as they're not pretending to be, say, Apple, it's not illegal to make a product that closely resembles another.

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U.S. Customs recently announced that they seized a shipment of "counterfeit Apple AirPods." But upon closer inspection, the stash seems to be OnePlus Buds, a legitimate company whose ear buds happen to look like Apple AirPods. Needless to say, they got ripped apart for it.

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"That's not an [apple emoji]," the smug tweet reads. "CBP officers at JFK airport recently seizes 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine." 

"CBP Officers are protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis," said Troy Miller, Director of CBP's New York Field Operations, in a press release about the incident. "The interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily."

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Speaking of vigilance, it seems the officers weren't vigilant enough to check the outside packaging of the boxes of ear buds. Because while they weren't genuine Apple AirPods, they were very clearly not even trying to be. They are very clearly marked as OnlyPlus Buds. 

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Sure, the ear buds look very similar to Apple AirPods. But so does...every single other brand of wireless ear buds that has come out in the last few years. 

A minimal amount of googling would lead the CBP officers to discover that OnePlus is a real electronics company. Wikipedia tells me it is based in China and was founded in 2013. OnePlus may be trying to profit off of the success of sleep Apple AirPods by providing their own, cheaper version, but that's all they are guilty of. The product is legitimate.

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The official CBP Twitter account got countless replies informing them of their mistake. But as of now, they haven't issued a correction or a statement acknowledging their mistake.

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An account that did get in on the conversation, however, was the official Twitter account for OnePlus. "Hey, give those back!" they tweeted, with an upside-down smiley face, the poster emoji for being stuck in wildly confusing situations. All of 2020 is like one big upside-down smiley face emoji.

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It's not clear if CBP will give OnePlus their ear buds back. It's also not clear who was bringing them in and if there might have been some other reason to think that they were counterfeit Apple AirPods.

But from the limited information we have, it really seems like OnlyPlus Buds are just that close in design to Apple AirPods that they fooled U.S. Customs, even with containers and boxes that displayed the actual company's name on them and no attempt to conceal where they actually came from. And that is pretty wild.

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