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  1. #1
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    iPhone screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    I have been running my own retail cell phone repair business in Central Florida since 2003, I started importing iphone repair parts from China lately since almost 5 months, small packages in $1500 -$2700 . I mainly use it for my own store repairs.

    Last week I tracked a package that was transported by DHL, the package had 100 iphone4 LCD screens and 40 iPod touch Screen Assemblies, DHL told me that the package has been seized by US customs, they gave me the officer’s contacts.

    My wife first called him and here are the bolts and nuts:


    • We are violating Apple trademarks because we have to be “CERTIFIED SERVICE CENTER” and also licensed by them to import any parts.
    • He took photos of those screens and sent it to apple to determine if they are genuine, and in both cases I can’t even ship them back to get my money, they will be destroyed anyhow by the customs!!!
    • If you break your phone, you have to go to the manufacturer only to repair your cell phone, and what I am doing “cell phone repair “is illegal because I have to get the parts only from the manufacturer, and be certified from each one. BTW, I used to be certified by Nokia and Motorola when they dominated the markets almost 6-8 years ago, and I decided not to renew my license since I have very little benefits and you get $15 per the whole repair.
    • As my wife asked him if he has one of those “smart phones” that everyone uses and asked him if he went to the manufacturer to fix it even once, he didn’t have an answer.
    • All the companies selling parts (IPHONE –HTC-BLACKBERRY-…ETC) on ebay, amazon, and their own site, the US customs “WILL GET THEM ONE BY ONE, THEY ARE ALL ILLEGAL”.
    • I will get a letter within 2 weeks; possibly get sued over fraud and trademark violations!!!


    I contacted several customs clearance offices, basically they said I have to let go this shipment, take my losses and possibly consult an attorney if they decided to run after me!!! I have a meeting with one of them in a couple of days to see if he can help me get an import license for those items.

    I decided to go myself to the customs office based to on an advice from one the brokers I spoke to him, the broker said this is just a small shipment ($2800), and maybe they can settle it directly with you.

    Well, I was completely wrong, the officer was a complete Jerk, he even took a copy of my DL like I am a fugitive, he told me that those big companies pay them to “CATCH” people like me, he showed me a memo (could not get a copy) that anything, I repeat ANYTHING, has the shape of an iphone is a trademark violation, either it is a screen, digitizer, battery, battery door. All the big companies pay us money to bring down people like me.

    As I told him I am just a small business who struggled to stay in business in this bad economy, he blamed “ people like me” , because all those “honest big companies” pay money for research and development and you people make them lose a lot of money because we do not go through them to buy parts and customers go directly to us instead of going to the manufacturer and use a legal way to “repair their cell phones”, I was even harassed by another officer who left his customer and joined the smack down on an “ illegal way to make money”, he told me to leave and do not come back here again, just appoint a customs broker to handle it.

    What is the Hell is going on? It looks like the government job now is to keep the big business bigger and make sure the small business stays small or go out of business. I do not think anyhow that Apple, and all the other big boys are interested in hiring people like me who know all the tricks to repair their gadgets.


    Anyone has any leads and news on similar incidents? I was in a T-Mobile meeting in Miami 3 weeks ago and one of the attendants has stores in Miami and said he said that several service centers in Hialeah were shot down because the government shot them down because they were using a selling aftermarket iphone parts, anyone can confirm that in Miami?

    Please give honest advises, I am not one of those big cell phone franchise names out there who can afford to hire top paid bozos attorneys who can fight monsters like apple, I am trying to make a living and avoid my business of being shot down.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    We've already paid over 500 dollars for one iPhone, and we're supposed to open our wallets to pay them for repairs?

    Ford doesn't come after me for using a aftermarket part. Feel Apple almost bullies everyone around.

  3. #3
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    Is it the same deal for Canadian Customs? I had 100 4S and 100 4 screens to use for repairs as well..

  4. #4
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    Re: Iphone Screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    You're not surprised the greediest corporation on the planet is doing this are you?

  5. #5
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    A few notes:

    1) I don't believe they said that the big companies pay them to bring down small companies like you. They are a government agency, so they are funded by you.
    2) This has nothing to do with Apple per se.
    3) If you are advertising or representing yourself as an Apple certified repair centre, that will be a trademark violation.
    4) If Apple's contracts with their vendors dictates that their certified parts can only be shipped to an authorized repair centre, then any parts being represented as genuine that are being shipped to you are stolen or counterfeit.
    5) If you are to source parts that are compatible and yet completely free of any Apple IP associated with the parts, then you would be able to import them. I think the officer was wrong about the size and shape of the parts playing a role in IP violation for parts. But finding such parts will likely be difficult. My guess is almost all will be illegitimate, whether because they contain IP or because they simply fell out of the back door of Apple's suppliers.
    6) You mention you have been a paid authorized dept for other brands, so you fully understand the system. You acknowledge you no longer pay for certification, because you can make more without it. Risk and reward.
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  6. #6
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    The United States Customs and Border Protection, now part of the Department of Homeland Security, operates partially from fees paid by corporations to protect their intellectual property. Just as the United States Department of Agriculture collects fees for food inspection.
    Earl F. Parrish

  7. #7
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    OP,

    I think the issue is that Apple does not endorse any unauthorized repair of their devices which is only officially allowed at their own locations. I believe it all comes down to licensing. Sucks for you, but it comes down to that.

    It would be no different if you importing Guci or Prada handbags without a license, even if they were genuine. Uncle Sam does get cranky if he doesn't get his share of the import/tariff fees and I suspect this is the nature of the beast.
    If I'm annoyed and you're annoyed, does that make us a paranoid ??

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    "Don't believe everything you think"

    It's not a matter of if you win or lose, it's how you assign the blame

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceredon View Post
    A few notes:

    1) I don't believe they said that the big companies pay them to bring down small companies like you. They are a government agency, so they are funded by you.
    2) This has nothing to do with Apple per se.
    3) If you are advertising or representing yourself as an Apple certified repair centre, that will be a trademark violation.
    4) If Apple's contracts with their vendors dictates that their certified parts can only be shipped to an authorized repair centre, then any parts being represented as genuine that are being shipped to you are stolen or counterfeit.
    5) If you are to source parts that are compatible and yet completely free of any Apple IP associated with the parts, then you would be able to import them. I think the officer was wrong about the size and shape of the parts playing a role in IP violation for parts. But finding such parts will likely be difficult. My guess is almost all will be illegitimate, whether because they contain IP or because they simply fell out of the back door of Apple's suppliers.
    6) You mention you have been a paid authorized dept for other brands, so you fully understand the system. You acknowledge you no longer pay for certification, because you can make more without it. Risk and reward.
    1.he said all big companies pay them, NBA, Soccer, NFL, Nokia, Motorola.....etc

    2.not sure what do you mean by SE., but i started to belive that the customs are nothing by jerks, just like any customs people worldwide.


    3.i am not doing that at all, others are but never being asked .


    5.they are free of any logos, however he showed me an internal memo saying that even the design of the iphone shape is a trademark and i cant import, buy or sell anything similar. he even refused to give me a copy.

    6.
    there are basically very few benifits and very little rewards

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mystery View Post
    You're not surprised the greediest corporation on the planet is doing this are you?
    Apple is the greediest corporation on the planet?

    Apple is so much worse than outfits like DuPont and Monsanto, right?

    *facepalm*

    Quote Originally Posted by cellphonerepair View Post
    6.
    there are basically very few benifits and very little rewards
    That may be the case, but you do know that you are supposed to be licensed to do the type of work you're doing. Your opinion of whether you agree with having to be licensed is irrelevant.

    I'm sure the plumber who did the pipes in your house would make more money if he didn't have to have a license too. Same with the natural gas guy. Same with the electrician...

  10. #10
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    Re: iPhone screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by jcalder View Post
    Apple is the greediest corporation on the planet?

    Apple is so much worse than outfits like DuPont and Monsanto, right?
    $40 for a lightning connector converter to use to your old products apple already licensed, using proprietary connectors for licensing when the rest of the industry agreed on micro usb. Very greedy.

  11. #11
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    iPhone screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mystery View Post
    $40 for a lightning connector converter to use to your old products apple already licensed, using proprietary connectors for licensing when the rest of the industry agreed on micro usb. Very greedy.
    Not totally true. Not all devices charge and sync using any standard micro USB cable. Many people, including myself, discover that they can use the micro USB Datasync cable from their Blackberry to sync but not charge some of their devices. You neglect to mention that many tablets also have proprietary cables. For example, the supplied Nook Color cable won't work with any other device.

    So much for interchangeable.
    Last edited by Doolie; 01-15-2013 at 05:14 PM.
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  12. #12
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    Re: iPhone screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doolie View Post
    Not totally true. Not all devices charge and sync using any standard micro USB cable. Many people, including myself, discover that they can use the micro USB Datasync cable from their Blackberry to sync but not charge some of their devices. You neglect to mention that many tablets also have proprietary cables. For example, the supplied Nook Color cable won't work with any other device.

    So much for interchangeable.
    I know my original statement was meant as a gross exaggeration, all corprorations are greedy. I should have said "one of the most..." I forgot how offended Apple fans get when ill will is thrown Apples way.

  13. #13
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    Re: iPhone screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doolie View Post
    Not totally true. Not all devices charge and sync using any standard micro USB cable. Many people, including myself, discover that they can use the micro USB Datasync cable from their Blackberry to sync but not charge some of their devices. You neglect to mention that many tablets also have proprietary cables. For example, the supplied Nook Color cable won't work with any other device.

    So much for interchangeable.
    Yes, but any USB cable will work on a nook color, it just won't charge as fast, but data and charging do work.

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  14. #14
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    iPhone screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    H
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mystery View Post
    I know my original statement was meant as a gross exaggeration, all corprorations are greedy. I should have said "one of the most..." I forgot how offended Apple fans get when ill will is thrown Apples way.
    Do you usually use "gross exaggerations" in defense of your agenda? The real problem is companies not following the standard for compliance with charging over USB.

  15. #15
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    Re: iPhone screens seized by US Customs, cell Phone repair is illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doolie View Post
    H

    Do you usually use "gross exaggerations" in defense of your agenda? The real problem is companies not following the standard for compliance with charging over USB.
    My agenda? Lol

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