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Showing posts from February, 2007

Ahh, The Rich Coffee of Canada!

Customs and Border Protection is taking a second look at the country of origin marking of roasted coffee from Canada. In the February 14, 2007 Bulletin , CBP announced that it intends to modify NY R03084 to hold that the country of origin is the counrty in which the beans were roasted, rather than where they were harvested. Lucky for Starbucks, Caribou, Pete's, and the rest of the caffeine pushers, roasted coffee is exempt from origin marking. But, the interesting question is whether the exemption permits an importer to identify the coffee by the country or region of harvesting where it is legally of Canadian origin. That would seem, at least without the benefit of actual research, to present a problem for coffee sellers who want to identify their product as Sulawesi, Ethiopian, Jamaican, or Kona. If the legal origin is Canada, the package is going to have to be pretty clear about that. The more general lesson to take from this is that when you import something via Canada or

CBP News of the Odd

Someone tried to smuggle a human being into the United States in the engine compartment of a vehicle. Here is that story . I'd like to see a picture of how that worked. Also, if you plan to import any African rodents, prairie dogs, or certain other animals, you need to know that the FDA is re-opening the comment period on its interim final rule concerning these animals. Here is the FR notice . The reason for this is the continuing need to prevent the spread of monkeypox in the human population. Monkeypox is related to smallpox. Obviously this is important work and it is good to know that smart people are worrying about these things and working to keep us all safe. But, there is no way to avoid the obvious fact that "monkeypox" is a funny word.

Is NAFTA Drawback Constitutional?

The Court of International Trade took up this question recently in Nufarm America's Inc. v. United States, Slip Op. 07-23 (Feb. 15, 2007) . Rather than create false suspense, I'll just tell you that the Court held it is constitutional. Let's take a look at the case. You need to understand the crazy world of duty deferral under NAFTA. When negotiating NAFTA, the parties identified a potential problem. Assume a manufacturer in the U.S. imports non-NAFTA parts but they are duty free because the manufacturer is a is in a foreign trade zone, uses a temporary importation bond, or subsequently claims drawback. Absent the FTZ, the parts would have been subject to a duty of, say, $100. If, the parts are used to produce a NAFTA-originating product, the finished good will likely be duty-free on export to Mexico or Canada. That means that because of the FTZ, the non-NAFTA parts escape duty when entering Mexico or Canada. That sets up a scenario where a NAFTA party (read that as "

What is Freely Programmable?

For years, I have been fascinated by the classification of automatic data processing equipment. Some of the first issues on which I worked involved pretty high-tech gear that was not technically computers. But, the guts were plenty smart and a good tinkerer could probably have programmed it to play Pong or tic-tac-toe when not being used for its intended purpose. Think about an ATM machine. I am confident there is no technical reason that would prevent a smart ATM hacker from turning one of those into a video game or word processing station (of course the numbers-only keyboard would be murder to use). I suspect the smokin' hot 486 processors of 1987 are busy running the gas pumps and vending machines of today. This all comes up because of the Federal Circuit's decision in Optrex America, Inc. v. U.S. At issue in Optrex was the classification of a number of LCD display modules and incomplete LCD assemblies. The importer wanted them classified in 8473 as parts of ADP machine

CBP Warning Shot

Are you a textile importer? If so Customs and Border Protection is watching you. CBP recently issued TBT-07-003 which says, effectively, that it is sick of textile importers getting their entries wrong. Here is the meat of it: In its review of entry summaries, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has found both brokers and importers to have made egregious errors in the reporting of statistical data, such that the entry documents do not correctly reflect the transactions. These errors occur in the reporting of quantity, country of origin, classification, and manufacturer identification number. To which Customs responds: This is to advise the trade community that CBP Headquarters will be reviewing entries to identify egregious errors. When errors are identified, the ports will be directed to pursue penalties against brokers and importers, as applicable. What do we take from this? CBP is letting textile importers know that they better get things right. That means classification,

CBP Lookin' Out for You

Marketing is tough. Any effort to look hip by the unhip generally reeks of unhip. Exhibit A , CBP trying to remind spring breakers to take their passports. It's an important effort, given that CBP will have to process all the returning revellers. It's just that the cartoon character more closely resembles something for the Barney set, not the wet t-shirt and beer bong crowd. Credit does go to CBP for breaking up a robbery in a California convenience store. Also, for finding a guy stashed inside the dash of a car crossing at Calexico. More substance to follow.

337 Case Review

I’m a little behind blogging case law. As I told a few readers who came up to me at the Georgetown function, I’m trying to catch up. Here’s the first, it is Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. v. International Trade Commission . You know those single-use disposable cameras you see at tourist spots and excessively fun weddings? There has been a lot of litigation over whether, and to what extent, a company can collect the used cameras, fix them up, reload them with film, and resell them. It seems like a good thing to do. At least it keeps them out of the landfill. Very likely the companies that manufacture them have recycling programs. The question in this case was whether another company can do that without infringing the patent on the camera. You might reasonably ask what this has to do with customs law. This case came up through an action at the International Trade Commission under section 337 of the Tariff Act. That provision makes it illegal to import merchandise that infringes a U

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Is Luke Skywalker Human?

Yesterday, at a Georgetown CLE event, I participated in a mock oral argument on the classification of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo action figures. You can read my brief here . The issue came down to whether "action figures" are dolls for classification purposes and whether Luke and Han are human beings. Let me know what you think. Below are my notes for the oral argument. I lost. May it please the Court. The parties agree on many key facts in this case. Galaxy recognizes that its Luke Skywalker and Han Solo action figures might, to the lay person, be viewed as dolls in the ordinary course. Galaxy contends, however, that the facts of this case and more important, the facts of life "a long time ago, in a galaxy far away" mean that for purposes of tariff classification neither the Luke Skywalker figure nor the Han Solo figure are dolls. The sole factual reason for this is that, despite appearances to the contrary, neither character is a human being. The La