Monday, December 21, 2015

Charge the Weapon and Change the Toner!

I have been sitting on Xerox Corp. v. United States while I try to take care of meaningful client work. Thank you clients for another year of interesting and rewarding work. I am always honored to be given the opportunity to work with some great companies and individuals.

[There may be spoilers in the links below. There are none in the text. Go down those rabbit holes at your peril.]

I am irrationally happy to say that saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens this weekend. It made me very happy to re-live being 14 years old, at least for a while. I am also very pleased to say that the reboot did not screw anything up. It has almost exactly the look and feel of the original trilogy, is a bit funnier, and moves at a great pace. Now, if they don't turn Star Trek into the Fast and the Furious, I will continue to be nerdishly happy. I am, however, starting to lose enthusiasm for Batman vs. Superman, which they better not screw up. [Shaking fist at heaven.]

That said, I am now about to discuss the tariff classification of a "pre-clean dicorotron high voltage power supply," which seems entirely like something Rey might be scavenging on Jakku. In reality, it is part of an iGen3 high-speed multifunction laser printer for high-volume but short run jobs. When I say it is big, I mean it is Hutt sized. It is probably big enough to climb into to for warmth on a cold Hoth night. There are two models of this printer. The smaller is over 7,000 pounds and costs about $405,000. The larger is almost 8,000 pounds and costs $610,000. So you are not going to pick one of these up on a whim at Best Buy. Despite the high price, these are printers; they lack scanners and facsimile functionality.

So what about Rey's power supply? The classification is clearly in Heading 8504 as an electrical transformer, static converter, etc. The question is whether it is a power supply "for automatic data processing machines or units thereof of heading 8471." That means the real question is whether Jabba the Printer is a unit of an automatic data processing machine.

The interesting conundrum here comes from the Note 5 to Chapter 84, which, if I could, I would make scroll up the screen Star Wars style.

(B) Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a  variable number of separate units.  Subject to paragraph (E) below, a unit is to be regarded as being a part of a complete system if it meets all the following conditions:

(a) It is of a kind solely or principally used in an automatic data processing system;

(b) It is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and

(c) It is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system.

(D) Printers, keyboards, X-Y coordinate input devices and disk storage units which satisfy the conditions of paragraphs (B)(b) and (B)(c) above, are in all cases to be classified as units of heading 8471.

(E) Machines performing a specific function other than data processing and incorporating or working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine are to be classified in the headings appropriate to their respective functions or, failing that, in residual headings.

There is no question that the printer satisfies the requirements of paragraph (B). Furthermore, paragraph (D) specifically references printers, which this surely is despite being the Death Star of laser printers.

What to make of paragraph (E)? This machine does perform a specific function, it prints. It only prints. And, it prints in a way that is not typical of traditional home or in-office computer use. It can print the entire run of a Lands' End catalog in 12 parsecs. Does that exclude it from being an ADP machine of 8471?

No. According to the Court of International Trade, a big laser printer that converts digital images to images on paper is continuing to perform the same data processing function as a more mundane laser printer. This is clear because paragraph (D) above specifies that printing is a data processing application. Paragraph (E) must, therefore, be referring to machines that perform some specific function other than printing when done in conjunction with an ADP machine. That would include printing presses of the Guttenberg style that use blocks of type, plates, or cylinders, for example. Those are classifiable in Heading 8443.

According to the Galactic Senate Court of International Trade, nothing in the tariff suggests that ADP printers of 8471 are constrained by size or speed (or time and space). Consequently, the iGen3 is classifiable as a unit of an ADP machine and the pre-clean dicorotron high voltage power supply is a part thereof.

One last thing, did anyone watch Jessica Jones? If not, you should. It was as good, possibly better than Daredevil and puts the currently too sunny Arrow to shame.

OK, I think that is out of my system for the moment.

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