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On May 6, 2021 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati, Ohio inspected three large shipments from China and found what appeared to be tens of thousands of fake Apple Airpods in violation of Apple’s protected configurations. 

Airpods with seal1

Each shipment contained 12,000 fake Apple AirPods, for a total of 36,000. Although each package had a declared value of $5,280, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for all the Apple AirPods would have been $7.16 million had they been genuine. 

The shipments were destined for an address in Dayton, KY.

After consulting with an import specialist from CBP’s Center of Excellence and Expertise, the items were found to be in violation of CBP trademark and copyright codes and were declared seized on May 11 and 13.

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Apple has configuration trademarks on their AirPods and has recorded those trademarks with Customs and Border Protection.

In this instance, further inspection of the earbuds revealed that their shape and design replicated the protected Apple configuration.

Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie says:

“Counterfeit products can be deceiving at first glance. They’re often cheaper and can appear very similar to the real thing. However, inferior products can end up costing consumers more than if they purchased the genuine item because of the high likelihood of substandard materials and malfunctioning parts. Supporting legitimate businesses is the smart choice, and buying from trusted companies protects against potential human rights violations and damage to our economy.”