We all know the United States can be a crazy place at times, but perhaps nothing shows exactly how crazy a place it can than a recent comedy of errors that have taken place at the US customs office. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed that it had seized over 2000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Taiwan (which ironically has a tagline of “set your music free”), worth around $400 000. The only problem is that they were legitimate earbuds from OnePlus that are already available for sale legally in the US.
OnePlus made a good joke out of the incident, remarking on how the company would really like its merchandise returned:
This is something that could easily have been written off as an overzealous customs officer going too far, while giving OnePlus some free publicity in the process. However, the CBP is adamant that this is not a mistake and have released an official statement claiming that these ear pods are in clear contravention of Apple’s trademark:
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 Configuration trademarks cover the general appearance of a product if you were wondering. “Based on that determination, CBP officers at JFK Airport have seized the shipment under 19 USC 1526 (e).
At the time of writing, it seemed as if OnePlus and the CBP were at an impasse and that the issue had yet to be resolved. Considering that many of its products have made it past customs before and sell actively within the US, it has made the ordeal even more confusing as it’s not clear if more OnePlus merchandise will be seized or if the parties will look to resolve this through legal matters. Something which should be easy for OnePlus as it has previously trademarked its design.
Last Updated: September 17, 2020