For years Apple's design has been providing ideas for more or less brazen copies. In the current case, it has hit a shipment of OnePlus Buds, which are apparently too close to Apple's design and have therefore been seized by the US Customs and Border Protection.
A few days ago, US customs announced a seemingly normal find of counterfeit electronics via Twitter and press release. However, on second glance, one realizes that it is not just a load of cheap 1:1 copies of Apple AirPods that arrived in white boxes with misleading labels from the far east.
THAT'S NOT AN —— CBP (@CBP) September 14, 2020
CBP officers at JFK Airport recently seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine.
Details via @CBPNewYorkCity: https://t.co/XMgjkfT56i pic.twitter.com/Ofn9REJ9ZB
As the pictures show, it is quite clearly a delivery consisting of 2,000 OnePlus Buds. The Verge reports that the delivery came from Hong Kong and reached John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on August 31st. The destination of the delivery was Nevada.
The press release also mentions an estimated value of the goods – if they had been "genuine" – of 398,000 US US Dollars. The OnePlus Buds of course do not cost $199, but only $79. The reason for the confiscation is a violation of Apple's "product configuration trademark", in other words, the design of the AirPods themselves.
OnePlus was calm and took the opportunity to react to the tweet from the authorities:
Hey, give those back!— OnePlus USA (@OnePlus_USA) September 14, 2020
OnePlus Buds: Seizure was not a mistake
The Verge also wanted to be sure and rule out that it could have been just a mistake by the authorities. There was a clear reaction to a request for comment, which seems to rule this out. This confirmed once again that a "CBP import specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple’s configuration trademark". Hence the delivery was seized.
Furthermore, they also reacted to the question of whether it was not possible to clearly see from the packaging that the product was a legitimate OnePlus product and not "fake AirPods". The simple answer is that the packaging did not play a role in this case. "A company does not have to put an ‘Apple’ wordmark or design on their products to violate these trademarks," the statement said.
OnePlus or the importers of the product will now have the chance to prove that the headphones do not violate the relevant recorded trademarks, a spokesperson said.
OnePlus repeatedly refused to comment on the case to The Verge. The headphones will continue to be available as usual at various retailers in the USA. Furthermore, Apple has not initiated any legal action against OnePlus based on the OnePlus Buds.