US Customs seize fake AirPods worth $7M in Cincinnati

Posted:
in General Discussion
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized over 36,000 pairs of fake AirPods as part of an inspection of goods in Cincinnati, a shipment from China valued at $7.16 million if the products were genuine.

Fake AirPods seized by Cincinnati CBP
Fake AirPods seized by Cincinnati CBP


An inspection on May 6 had CHP officers looking into three large shipments, originating from China but bound for Dayton, KY. The three shipments seemed to consist of a large quantity of fake AirPods, branded on packaging as "Elite Pods."

Each shipment contained 12,000 sets, with the three shipments containing 36,000 units in total, and a per-shipment declared value of $5,280, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Officers consulted with an import specialist from the CBP's Center of Excellence and Expertise, before seizing the shipments on May 11 and May 13 for violating CBP trademark and copyright codes.

Apple has configuration trademarks that apply to AirPods, representing the physical design and shape among other attributes, which are recorded with CBP. While the fake AirPods don't use Apple's product name nor the Apple wordmark at all, the design of the products was enough to be considered a violation.

"Counterfeit products can be deceiving at first glance, they're often cheaper and can appear very similar to the real thing," said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. "However, inferior products can end up costing consumers more that if they purchased the genuine item because of the high likelihood of substandard materials and malfunctioning parts."

The popularity of Apple's products makes it a big target for counterfeit goods. In May, one UK firm was fined $147,000 for selling fake Apple chargers, uncovered in an October 2018 raid following a seized shipment of the product.

A dedicated anti-counterfeit team works within Apple, tasked with the removal of knock-off Apple products. In 2020, the team managed to take down more than a million product listings for fake Apple goods.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    VermelhoVermelho Posts: 27member
    They can’t even keep these spoofed Apple products off Amazon website.  Combined with dirt cheap shipping from China that costs the USPS more with the uneven international govt mail arrangements 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 10
    longfanglongfang Posts: 228member
    Vermelho said:
    They can’t even keep these spoofed Apple products off Amazon website.  Combined with dirt cheap shipping from China that costs the USPS more with the uneven international govt mail arrangements 
    If some Americans didn’t want dirt cheap lookalikes, these wouldn’t have made their way to the US. 
    dewmelkruppdarkvaderviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,290member
    Funny how Android is an exception.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    fred1fred1 Posts: 772member
    “ valued at $7.16 million if the products were genuine.”. This doesn’t mean that Customs seized shipments worth that much since they aren’t genuine. The value is what they would have been sold for, which would have been much less. 
    CloudTalkinStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    How in the world does something with a different name, in a different color, and in different packaging qualify as "fake" AirPods?

    Given the vague criteria, there are lots of "fake" products running around.
    edited May 17 darkvaderviclauyyc
  • Reply 6 of 10
    How in the world does something with a different name, in a different color, and in different packaging qualify as "fake" AirPods?

    Given the vague criteria, there are lots of "fake" products running around.
    From the article: "Apple has configuration trademarks that apply to AirPods, representing the physical design and shape among other attributes, which are recorded with CBP. While the fake AirPods don't use Apple's product name nor the Apple wordmark at all, the design of the products was enough to be considered a violation."

    ↑↑↑ That's their reasoning.  In this particular case, I think they're pretty spot on.  The problem is counterfeit is based on their interpretation of what "looks" like an AirPod.  A while back, using the same criteria, they seized some OnePlus earbuds claiming they were counterfeit AirPods.  The obviously weren't.  
    dewmemuthuk_vanalingamStrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 10
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,114member
    Beats said:
    Funny how Android is an exception.
    Counterfeit Android products are worthless. There’s no money in it for the counterfeiters.
    viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,114member
    It’s this sort of thing that raises questions when users claim their ‘Apple’ product is defective, or blew up in their face, or caught on fire, or fell apart. Was the product counterfeit?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 509member
    Those aren't fake AirPods.  Those are Elite Pods.  They're clearly not an Apple product, and customs has no business stealing them.

    Counterfeit products are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.  Counterfeit AirPods would be in boxes that were the same size and shape as AirPods, they'd be marked AirPods on the box, and would have a case that looked exactly like an AirPod case.  They wouldn't light up red and blue, which these clearly do.  Good counterfeits wouldn't be distinguishable other than by serial number matching and shipping records.

    These are a completely different product, clearly from a completely different company, and labeled as such.  They aren't AirPods.  They aren't counterfeit AirPods.  They're headphones that look somewhat like AirPods only once they're out of the case.

    Apple's corrupt relationship with customs needs some serious scrutiny here.  And yes, Apple effectively bribes customs agencies in various countries including the US. 
  • Reply 10 of 10
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,276member
    darkvader said:
    Those aren't fake AirPods.  Those are Elite Pods.  They're clearly not an Apple product, and customs has no business stealing them.

    Counterfeit products are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.  Counterfeit AirPods would be in boxes that were the same size and shape as AirPods, they'd be marked AirPods on the box, and would have a case that looked exactly like an AirPod case.  They wouldn't light up red and blue, which these clearly do.  Good counterfeits wouldn't be distinguishable other than by serial number matching and shipping records.

    These are a completely different product, clearly from a completely different company, and labeled as such.  They aren't AirPods.  They aren't counterfeit AirPods.  They're headphones that look somewhat like AirPods only once they're out of the case.

    Apple's corrupt relationship with customs needs some serious scrutiny here.  And yes, Apple effectively bribes customs agencies in various countries including the US. 
    Yeah no yeah these look nearly 100% like AirPods. The branding doesn’t matter, the product is a shameless copy. If you tried to sell Dude Cola but used the protected Coca-cola bottle shape, guess what? Legal problems. 

    Don’t quit your day job, armchair lawyering isn’t for you.
    viclauyycwatto_cobra
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