CINCINNATI–-On May 13th, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati intercepted two large shipments of Bluetooth audio devices and found 23,900 earbuds that appeared to be in violation of Apple’s protected AirPods configurations. Officers reached out to import specialists from CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise who ultimately determined the merchandise was not genuine and violated Apple’s recorded trademark rights.
Apple has configuration trademarks on their AirPods products and has recorded those trademarks with CBP. Furthermore, a company does not have to put the “Apple” wordmark or design on their products to violate the three-dimensional trademark. In this instance, further inspection of the earbuds revealed that their shape and design were identical to the Apple AirPods configuration.
The earbuds had a declared value of $5,280, but the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price would have been $3.8 million had they been genuine. The shipments, which were coming from Hong Kong, were destined to an address in Dayton, KY.
During the same timeframe, CBP officers inspected another shipment from Hong Kong and found 150 bracelets identical to the famous Cartier ‘Love Bracelet’ design. The shipment was destined to an address in New York City and would likely have been sold to local consumers. The bracelets were determined to be non-genuine by CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise and as the design was identical to the recorded trademark, the merchandise was deemed counterfeit and seized on May 28th. The bracelets would have been worth $1.51 million had they been genuine Cartier products.
“Counterfeit products have huge economic impacts on our country, and are usually tied to criminal enterprises,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “The profits from selling fake merchandise can be used to fund criminal activity and furthermore harms the U.S. economy. The officers here at Cincinnati continue to work diligently to protect our economy and the future of the United States.”
Consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods:
* Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.
* When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller.
* Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.
* Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have information concerning counterfeit merchandise illegally imported into the United States, CBP encourages you to submit an anonymous report through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System.