By Katabella Roberts
Customs agents working at the Port of Houston seized a shipment containing 50,000 fake Apple AirPods and 920 Nintendo video game consoles early last month for violating intellectual property rights (IPR), U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on Thursday.
The officers discovered the illegitimate products after inspecting a shipment of goods arriving from China into the United States and determined that they appeared to be fake. They then sent them to import specialists for review.
CBP’s Electronics Center of Expertise and Excellence import specialists determined the electronic goods were indeed counterfeit and on Dec. 8, CBP officers seized the shipment containing the 50,000 fake Apple AirPods and 920 fake Nintendo video game consoles.
The shipment of fake products would have a domestic value of over $2.6 million and a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of over $6.5 million had they been genuine, officials said.
“All year round, our officers take great care inspecting arriving international goods to ensure they are not counterfeit or harmful to consumers,” said Houston/Galveston Area Port Director Roderick W. Hudson. “One of our agency’s missions is to prevent the entry of illicit goods that could negatively impact our economy all while supporting legitimate trade.”
CBP said it had seized over 3,000 consumer electronics with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price value of over $162 million in 2020.
The federal law enforcement agency warned of the dangers associated with counterfeit products, which can involve forced labor and human trafficking, while supporting other criminal activities and funding criminal enterprises.
It comes as the global chip shortage is making it harder for American customers to purchase popular tech gadgets such as Apple AirPods, games consoles, and other consumer electronics as well as vehicles.
The chip crisis has been driven by soaring demand for such technologies during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, sparking a shortage of chips.
In September, the White House asked both foreign and domestic chipmakers to submit supply chain information, including inventory data, demand, and delivery dynamics, by Nov. 8 in an effort to boost transparency and better understand where bottlenecks in the supply chain may exist.
Companies including Intel, GM, Infineon, and SK Hynix signaled they would cooperate with the voluntary request for data on the global chip crisis.
Some industry experts have pointed to China, which they believe may be hoarding chips and thus further exasperating the global shortage.