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US Customs seized a bunch of “counterfeit” AirPods that were actually, um, just OnePlus Buds

In US Customs defense, they do look pretty similar.

airpods and oneplus buds
Image: KnowTechie

Oh dear, it appears that Customs and Border Protection officers didn’t recognize the OnePlus brand, as they seized 2,000 pairs of “counterfeit Apple AirPods” which turned out to be OnePlus Buds. I mean, they’re even in the OnePlus Buds official retail packaging, which has serial numbers and UPC codes and all of the usual regulatory marks that are needed to sell on the U.S. market.

CBP also mentions that the haul was “valued at $398K had they been genuine,” with one minor problem – the OnePlus Buds retail at $79 a pair, which would total $158,000 for the 2,000 seized pairs. I guess the $398K figure is based on the AirPods retail pricing, which is only accurate if the seized Buds were actually counterfeit.

Then again, if you weren’t familiar with OnePlus, would you be able to tell these aren’t counterfeit? Maybe it’s not surprising that the CBP officers couldn’t tell that these were not fake AirPods, since everyone has been copying the AirPod design for years. Any patent lawyers reading this care to weigh in? Surely there’s a case to be made that the design is uniquely Apple, and CBP just saved Apple from having to fight it out in court.

I know the comments on that tweet are laughing at CBP, but apart from getting the name wrong, they might have a point about Intellectual Property Rights violations in this case… Then again, this could be the next part of the China trade war that has seen Huawei and others being blacklisted from buying American technology. With Nvidia recently inking the deal to buy ARM, could China now be blocked from using any of Qualcomm’s chips? Expect smartphone prices to go up if so.

What do you think? Are other companies using designs that are a bit too similar to Apple’s AirPods? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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