Counterfeit AirPods seized by Customs.

Seized TWS headphones, source: CBP.gov

In mid-June, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville seized 8 shipments manifested as “bluetooth audio devices” and found 817 pairs of earbuds that bear a strong resemblance to Apple Incorporated’s AirPods three-dimensional configuration trademark. As you are aware, CBP is required by law to enforce trademarks and patents if the trademark/patent/copyright holder submits a request to Customs.

In all cases involving intellectual property rights seizures – CBP import specialists will submit photos or samples of goods suspected of violating intellectual property rights to the rights holder. In 100% of the cases, Apple will always reject any sample or photo as counterfeit. Even if the imported phone is a phone previously sold through T-Mobile, traded-in by the first user, sold to a liquidator, exported to China for repair, then shipped back to the US – Apple will notify Customs the phone is counterfeit.

While the AirPods in this shipment did not contain the Apple logo, CBP is enforcing the 3-d configuration trademark. While the photo provided by Customs is hard to see, I believe the AirPods seized are the TWS-iXX headphones. The earlier models of the TWS I believe started with the TWS-i7, and in 2021 I see TWS-i12 headphones being sold. I cannot see the model number clearly, but can determine the photos are boxed TWS series headphones.

Customs seized the headphones and determined the value of the 817 headphones was approximately $331,360 if genuine, or about $405 per pair. I do not know how CBP valued these headphones as authentic Apple AirPods start at $199 and go as high as $249 for the AirPod Pro models.

If you have had your TWS shipment seized by Customs, or have any other IPR violations, contact Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate assistance at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com. We are based in Houston but represent clients nationwide and abroad. Call for your free consultation.