Friday, January 30, 2015

Ruling of the Week 215.4: CBP as Fashion Snob

Men's ties are an odd thing. They are completely useless in terms of functionality, unless the function is collection samples of soup and occasionally operating as a choking hazard. It is high time someone took ties to the proverbial next level. It appears that the fine folks at Seasons USA, Inc. have done just that. Apparently, they import a "novelty" tie that incorporates LEDs that light up in amusing patterns of joy.

Seasons requested a ruling on the classification of these ties.

According to the fashionistas at Customs and Border Protection, ties and bow ties conform to some preconceived notion of acceptable dress. To me, that is just a lack of imagination and fashion adventurism. Who says a light up tie is not acceptable wherever a tie might normally be worn? At a funeral or bar mitzvah, for example. Or a Cabinet Meeting? That's only true if you are not bold enough to do it.

But, Customs says a light up tie made of 100% polyester with an elastic band going around the wearer's neck is not a tie. Rather, it is classifiable in 6217.10.9530, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for "Other made up clothing accessories; parts of garments…Accessories: Other: Other: Of man-made fibers." The rate of duty will be 14.6 percent ad valorem. Actual polyester ties, by the way, are classified in 6215.20.0000 (24.8 cents/kg + 12.7%).

You can read this failure of creativity in NYRL N257651 (Oct. 20, 2014).

Note: In law school, the professor who taught me copyright law said any student who could find him the original Balinese dancer lamp that was at issue in the famous copyright case of Mazer v. Stein would get an automatic A. That was a joke, in case you are wondering. But, I have periodically looked for that lamp for Professor McGrath. Similarly, I have scoured the internet for a picture of this particular light up tie. It is Seasons Style Number AC 15-0065. Anyone who can find it will get my thanks and gratitude.


Valerie Ann Sorensen said...

I don't think this is the tie you're looking for, but it's pretty fantastic nonetheless:

Larry said...

Thanks! I don't think that is the right tie, but I want one anyway.