Shipment of Fake AirPods Worth More Than $7 Million Seized By U.S. Authorities

A shipment of more than 36,000 fake AirPods from China to Cincinnati has been seized by Customs and Border Protection after the fake earbuds were found to violate Apple's copyright infringement rules, according to a press release from the agency.

fake airpods cpb
The shipment of earbuds were declared seized on May 11 and May 13 after they were found to include not only Apple's logo but also the shape and design of AirPods. The 36,000 AirPods, valued at $7.16 million, were split across three separate shipments.

On May 6, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati inspected three large shipments from China and found what appeared to be tens of thousands of earbuds in violation of Apple's protected configurations. 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.

Apple products, especially AirPods, are often counterfeited and sold for a cheaper retail price. Apple is aware of the issue, having an entire team dedicated to ensuring these products do not hit the mainstream market. Manufacturers even go as far as to create fake versions of unreleased AirPods using information from rumors and leaks.

Related Roundup: AirPods 3
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Don't Buy)
Related Forum: AirPods

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Top Rated Comments

69Mustang Avatar
40 months ago
Small correction. The seized items weren't worth $7 million. Customs said the items would have been worth $7 million if they were genuine AirPods. These weren't genuine, and would have most likely sold for a fraction of the price of genuine AirPods. What Customs seized was probably worth no more than half a million street value imo. $7 million just makes for a better headline.

Bigger correction. The items were not found to include Apple logos. The press release stated:
"Apple has configuration trademarks on their AirPods and has recorded those trademarks with the CBP. Furthermore, a company does not have to put the "Apple" wordmark or design on their products to violate these trademarks. In this instance, further inspection of the earbuds revealed that their shape and design replicated the protected Apple configuration."

Apple logos weren't found on the earbuds.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
theluggage Avatar
40 months ago

Are they really fake or just cheap junk [very likely], since they're not packaged or named in any way to "dupe" any real potential AirPods buyer
Depends on your definition of "fake" - not a legal term of art AFAIK. The official charge is "in violation of CBP trademark and copyright codes". They pretty clearly say "Elite Pods" and not "AirPods" on the box, and it looks like they are grey rather than white - they're not going to fool anybody. I'd say "cheap copy" and reserve "fake" or "counterfeit" for items being passed off as the real thing.

Apple are entitled to enforce their legally-protected designs, but maybe that should be a job for the civil courts, at Apple's expense, and customs/border protection shouldn't be making judgements on those issues...?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mtneer Avatar
40 months ago
What’s the trigger for CBP to seize a particular consignment? Does Apple request a seizure? There are hundreds of similar products ready to ship on Amazon with no seeming issues.. wonder how they manage?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ani4ani Avatar
40 months ago
I'm sure fake Airpods [Elite Pods?] are not worth $200 a pair, so the claim of $7M+ of "fake" Airpods is a stretch...more like $36K of Elite pods were seized.

Are they really fake or just cheap junk [very likely], since they're not packaged or named in any way to "dupe" any real potential AirPods buyer
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shigzeo Avatar
40 months ago
Western capitalists banked on China, moving factories wholesale from America, Europe, and now Japan and Korea, to China, which allowed China's meteoric rise, both economically, but also as a copy-cat production state. Then, when those copycats come back to the border, and after already destroying the entire manufacturing base of the West, the West then demonises the detritus of its own short term money grubbing as if it has the moral high ground.

It is all so tiresome.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Clark Avatar
40 months ago
So I won't be receiving my elite pods!?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)