Keeping Up With the Kardashians stars Kylie and Kendall Jenner are under fire for promoting what appear to be fake AirPods. While they aren’t the first of social media influencers to do so, they certainly have the most combined followers out of the literally dozens of knock-off AirPod promoters. This could be a potential problem for the celebrities, as these earbuds could be infringing on intellectual property rights.
An investigation was conducted by BBC Click that confirmed many social media influencers had been entangled in this promotional scam. It turns out that not only were bootleg AirPods being promoted by these big-name Instagram celebs, but knock-off Apple Watches as well. Kendall and Kylie weren’t directly selling these products, but rather offering promotional codes for companies known as “drop-shippers,” which don’t sell the products themselves but are the middlemen for online Chinese markets. There currently is no case against them at this moment, despite the products potentially being considered intellectual property theft.
According to BBC, that Kylie and Kendall may be caught up in the scheme, but this isn’t the first time they’ve been called out for being involved in shady business. Tom Warren, an editor at The Verge, commented about how they were up to these same antics last November, saying, “you’d think Kylie Jenner, a billionaire, would be above advertising fake AirPods to her 152 million followers, but apparently not.” Tom Tweeted, yet again in May earlier this year, against Kylie and Kendall for the promoting even more knock-off AirPod brands. The criticism lies mostly with the fact that the sisters have more than 300-million followers combined who, unable to fork over enough money to pay for real AirPods, which have a reputation for being a status-symbol of the upper middle class, will settle for falsely advertised knock-offs.
Dropshipping is technically legal, but this practice opens consumers up for an array of potential problems. Many consumers have reported their products not being delivered, and refunds not given due to no further contact and sudden disappearances of the seller’s website. The popularity and price of AirPods means that “counterfeit” versions of their products could mean potential money loss for Apple. While Apple hasn’t released a statement on the matter, Instagram said that influencers are bound by laws regarding what they can and cannot promote on their platform.
Even after three offenses of promoting un-legitimate products, it seems the sisters are walking away from this legally unscathed and may just do it again. There is no known reason why a billionaire like Kylie would post promo codes in her name for off-brand Chinese sellers. Perhaps the excessive wealth disparity between the Jenner’s and the average citizen has made them unaware of or uninterested in how their irresponsible business deals negatively affect their working class fans; perhaps it is only ignorance of the brand’s illegitimacy that prompted the sisters to sell scams to their supporters. Given that the Keeping Up With the Kardashians stars have also not released a statement on any of the accusations, we will likely never know.
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Sources: Insider, BBC