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US Customs seize 2,000 OnePlus Buds thinking they're counterfeit AirPods

US Customs and Border Protection posted a photo of one of the captured "counterfeit AirPods," clearly showing them to be OnePlus Buds.

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- 02:34
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A tweet from US Borders and Custom Protection.

CBP/Twitter

US Customs and Border Protection proudly announced a few days ago that on Aug. 31 it had seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods, sent to New York's JFK Airport from Hong Kong. "If the merchandise were genuine," the CBP press release proclaims, "the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) would have been $398,000."

That's a slight miscalculation, because the actual value of the cargo is $158,000. How do we know? Because that's how much 2,000 OnePlus Buds cost. And in the photo posted alongside the press release, as well as in a CBP tweet, we see that the "counterfeit AirPods" are, in fact, OnePlus Buds.

Announced back in June, the OnePlus Buds are $79 wireless earphones that launched alongside the OnePlus Nord phone. OnePlus, like other Chinese phone makers, has previously been accused of releasing phones that were "iPhone clones." Its newer, excellent flagship devices, like the OnePlus 8 Pro, have shielded it from such accusations.

Replying to the tweet, OnePlus USA wrote: "Hey, give those back!"

On Monday, the company alluded to the incident again in a separate tweet.

"Seize the day. Seize the music. #OnePlusBuds" it wrote.

But in the CBP's defense, those do look like AirPods. And OnePlus isn't the only one to launch AirPod-esque earphones since Apple launched the line in 2016. Google Buds come to mind, as to Huawei's FreeBuds

"CBP Officers are protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis," said Troy Miller, director of CBP's New York field operations, in the aforementioned press release. "The interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily."

The agency doubled down on its seizure in a statement to CNET. "Upon examining the shipment in question, a CBP Import Specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple's configuration trademark," a spokesperson said. "Apple has configuration trademarks on their brand of earbuds, and has recorded those trademarks with CBP... 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 importer will have many opportunities through the adjudication process to provide evidence that their product does not violate the relevant recorded trademarks."

Correction, Sept. 22: Original article incorrectly said Samsung's Galaxy Buds were inspired by Apple's AirPods, when Galaxy Buds were a second-generation version of a product that launched prior to AirPods.