Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pen Is Stronger

I found this Customs and Border Protection ruling to be interesting in a let's-keep-the-basic-in-mind kind of way. It involves the country of origin marking on pens. The pens were marked in raised letters on the barrel but the marking was in the same color as the pen. Customs calls this "blind marking." Also, the marking--as one would expect on a pen--was quite small; just 1/16 by 1/4 of an inch. Lastly, the pens were to be decorated with logos or slogans and were, at the time of importation, printed with an identifier for the pen style.

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.


I went through my drawer. Guess what I found, a pen CBP gave out that has a small blind marking and is printed with the Customs and Border Protection web address in a contrasting color. Here are exhibits A and B:


kbbuslaw said...

Is this like what your parents used to say...do as I say and not as I do?

Thanks for providing that great bit of humor!

Ink Pens said...

Hey guys!
i just started blogging not that long ago and running across this blog it seemed a bit too interesting to only read the first paragraph. Please, who ever wrote this, keep me updated!