Friday, October 03, 2014

Streetsurfing

I am doing this quick. It is, for me, a Holiday today and I am behind on blog posts. Happy New Year to those of you celebrating.

Streetsurfing LLC v. United States is a classification case from the U.S. Court of International Trade that revolves around one of my favorite topics: what is sports equipment as opposed to a toy, apparel, or some other general use product? In this case, the product is a sort of high-tech skateboard-ish gizmo called a casterboard. The traditional solid deck is split, creating two independently moving platforms connected by a joint. By opposing pressure on the front and back platforms, the thing moves the rider along, including uphill.

Here's a video that makes it pretty clear what we are talking about.




With that in mind, here is the bottom line question: Is that a wheeled toy (9503.00.00, duty free) or is it sporting goods for general physical exercise (9506.99.60, 4%)?

The starting point here is noticing that 9503.00.00 is a principal use provision requiring that the article be used for amusement, although some physical exertion may be required. On the other hand, 9506.99.60, is a residual provision. That means that 9503 is the more specific heading and, if the product can be classified in both headings, 9503 will prevail. That means, the first question is whether the product is a toy that can be classified in 9503.

In addition to being for amusement, the Court of International Trade held that wheeled toys have other common characteristics including:
  1. No need for training
  2. Absence of meaningful risk of injury
  3. Lack of acquired skill to fully use the item
  4. Lack of exercise or athletic aspects to the item's use
  5. The presence of some device to assist in the use of the item (e.g., handlebars)
The Streetsurfing boards failed each of these tests. Thus, they are not toys. Thus, there is no conflict between 9503 and 9506.

To be sporting equipment, the product must meet another set of criteria. Most important, there must be a meaningful degree of healthy, challenging, and skillful recreation involve. There need not be organized competitions, rules, or scoring for the article to be sporting equipment.

Here, the Court found that the Streetsurfing boards possess the qualities necessary to be classified as sports equipment. Thus, the Court upheld Customs and Border Protection's classification in 9506.99.60.

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