Monday, October 08, 2012

For Wilton, Classification is Not a Piece of Cake

OK, I admit that is a strained pun.

This particular Wilton case apparently has nothing to do with cake decorating paraphernalia. Rather, it has to do with hand operated decorative paper punches. These are items used by people who understand the term "scrapbook" to be a verb.

I gather the punches are similar to this item, although Wilton describes it as for making edible shapes for cake decoration and not for the production of scrapbooks and similar crafty pastimes. For a brief time, my mother was a freelance cake decorator. As a result, I ate far too many practice and rejected butter-cream roses in my youth. Thus, this die-punch system seems like cheating to me.



The tariff provisions at issue were Heading 8203, which covers, among other things, "perforating punches and similar hand tools" and 8441, which covers "Other machinery for making up paper pulp, paper or paperboard, including cutting machines of all kinds, and parts thereof . . . ."

Plaintiff sought to have the goods classified in 8441 as cutting machines. The problem for the plaintiff was the language "other machinery for making up paper pulp, paper or paperboard, including" implies that the cutting machines of Heading 8441 must be of a kind used for making up paper pulp, paper or paperboard. Consequently, the Court found that 8441 does not cover cutting machines. Rather, it covers paper production machines. While some paper production machines are cutters, not all cutters are paper producing machines. Because these punches are not paper making machines, they do not fall under Heading 8441.

Heading 8203, on the other hand, is an eo nomine description of perforating punches and similar hand tools. Relying on dictionary definitions, the Court of International Trade found that the punches are hand tools and that they are perforating punches. Thus, they are properly classified in 8203. Also, given that they are properly classified in Heading 8203, they are excluded from Chapter 84 by virtue of Section XVI, Note 1(k).

2 comments:

Lowell DeFrance said...

I think the interesting part of this case was that the punches that customs settled the classification issue in favor of the plaintiff appear to be overturned as well. They definitely should have thought more about the likelihood of prevailing. Maybe the 3.3% duty will make these commercially unviable?

I have ofter wondered where the line of hand operated goes to. This case is an easy distinction as all the energy used it from physical exertion. But power drills where the energy could be electric gas or steam is also classified in chapter 82. So if just pressing a button to turn the machine is considered hand-operated, then could that not be said for most machines of chapter 84 and 85 as well?

Until telekinesis is invented there will be some physical hand operation required for most machines.

Lowell DeFrance said...

I think the interesting part of this case was that the punches that customs settled the classification issue in favor of the plaintiff appear to be overturned as well. They definitely should have thought more about the likelihood of prevailing. Maybe the 3.3% duty will make these commercially unviable?

I have ofter wondered where the line of hand operated goes to. This case is an easy distinction as all the energy used it from physical exertion. But power drills where the energy could be electric gas or steam is also classified in chapter 82. So if just pressing a button to turn the machine is considered hand-operated, then could that not be said for most machines of chapter 84 and 85 as well?

Until telekinesis is invented there will be some physical hand operation required for most machines.