What you need to know
- The CBP had seized a shipment of OnePlus Buds.
- The agency claims that they violate Apple's trademarks.
- After facing public scrutiny, the CBP has doubled down on its position.
Earlier today, Feds seized 'counterfeit Apple AirPods' that turned out to be OnePlus Buds. While many had originally thought that the seizure was a gaff on behalf of the U.S. government, the CBP seems to be doubling down on its actions.
In a statement to The Verge, the CBP says that, after examining the shipment, a specialist with the department determined that the headphones do in fact "violate Apple's configuration 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," the spokesperson said. 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)."
In response to many who pointed out that the packaging clearly shows that the headphones are legitimate products from OnePlus, the CBP says that their determination is "unrelated to the images or language on the box."
The CBP spokesperson also tried to address the common response that many people have had to this incident: couldn't their officers tell that the OnePlus Buds were a genuine product (and not a "counterfeit" posing as AirPods) just by looking at the box and branding? "CBP's seizure of the earbuds in question is unrelated to the images or language on the box. A company does not have to put an 'Apple' wordmark or design on their products to violate these trademarks."
The department says that OnePlus will have an opportunity to prove that its product does not violate Apple's trademarks.
OnePlus (or whoever imported the OnePlus Buds) "will have many opportunities through the adjudication process to provide evidence that their product does not violate the relevant recorded trademarks," according to the CBP spokesperson. Reached earlier today, OnePlus declined to comment on the seizure. The company declined again after seeing the CBP statement.
Both Apple and OnePlus have declined to comment on the situation so far.