It's this last part that seems to have been the problem for the importer. Customs held that the small, blind marking was not sufficiently conspicuous. Part of its reasoning seems to be that the pen is designed and intended to have more conspicuous printing applied to it. Customs, therefore, required a better marking and suggested contrasting colors.
This is the great part: As evidence of acceptable marking, counsel for the importer placed before Customs a pen CBP distributed at an ACE event. If its good enough for CBP, the argument goes, it should be good enough for Jane and Joe Importer. Imagine the forehead slaps and rolled eyes among the lawyers at Customs. Unfortunately, rather than possibly own up to it, CBP said there was insufficient evidence linking the pen to Customs and that it would only consider the merchandise that is the subject of the ruling request.
Now I know why I have a drawer full of various CBP mouse pads, cup coolers, stress balls, and other assorted junk! [NOTE: SEE BELOW FOR MORE ON THIS STORY]
I should have updated the Colombia FTA story to reflect the Democratic move to block the vote under what everyone assumed were firm fast-track deadlines. But, I assume you have heard already. A story on that is here.
If you have time, listen to this episode of This American Life. It focuses on the fascinating story of the International Boundary Commission's fight to keep a homeowner on the U.S.-Canada border from building a wall within 10 feet of the boundary. The story takes an odd political turn and raises interesting questions about international law, policy making, and the power of the president.