Showing posts from June, 2010

I Can't Contain Myself

Sometimes, I hate this job. Pacific Northwest Equipment is a beautifully written, very logical decision of the Court of International Trade that just leaves me thinking it came to the wrong result. It's kind of like reading Hamlet except that in the end everyone lives happily ever after. The issue is an apparently simple classification question involving intermodal shipping platforms, which the plaintiff refers to as "platform containers." I am not 100% certain, but I think we are talking about that thing in the picture. It has no sides and no top. According to NAC International Group's web site, platform containers" Platform containers are basically flat rack containers with no bulkheads or posts, just a 20' x 8' or 40' x 8' piece of steel." The second picture is from their web site, although it shows a slightly different product, which has collapsible ends. So here is the question: Is a shipping platform a "container" for purpose

What About the Battery?

UPDATED TO ADD A VERY IMPORTANT "NOT" Dell Products v. United States raises the question of just how many batteries are part of a computer set? According to the U.S. Court of International Trade, the answer is one. The facts of this case are simple enough. One notebook computer entered the United States (via an FTZ) with two batteries. The second battery was a consumer selected option. Customs classified one battery with the computer and the second battery as a battery. Importantly, the computer only has one battery compartment, so the two batteries cannot be used simultaneously. Dell's first argument was that the second battery combined with the computer and presumably the first battery constitute a functional unit and should be classified as a whole. HTSUS Section XVI, Note 4 states that a machine comprised of a number of individual components intended to contribute to a clearly defined function, may be classified in the heading appropriate to that function. This makes

New Template

Everything else is the same. Go about your business.

Trilobites Headed Home

This is an interesting article about fossils from China being intercepted in Chicago and returned to China. Good catch by the Customs and Border Protection officer. Good PR for my local Field Museum of Natural History too. The article says the fossils are 525 million year old paleovertebrates. They look like trilobites to me. Props to allegedly 6 year old Brian Lean for the photo and info on trilobites.

No Tweets Blago

UPDATED: It seems very strange to me that a judge would ever have to caution the defendant in a high-stakes criminal trial against tweeting from the courtroom. In my limited experience in criminal trials (as a clerk to a federal judge), they are pretty somber affairs. I can't remember a situation in which it would have been appropriate for the defendant to fire off: "Liar! I never sold her more than 10g of cocaine. What a biyotch." But, time have changed. Now that my former governor is on trial for political corruption, the admonition might be well calculated. The former first couple of Illinois have been reality TV "stars" (not sure that is the right word). He as an Apprentice to Donald Trump and she as a jungle dwelling counterpoint to Heidi Montag . Plus, he has a radio show and both have Twitter accounts. That seems like the kind of defendant who might need a reminder to shut up. Update: For a more serious take on this trial, see the commentary by my friend

Best Wishes

It seems that Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Bersin is coming into office with a reasonable level of agency humility. According to press reports of his first policy speech, Bersin has pledged to repair the relationship between the agency and the trade. Among other things, Bersin promises to: Talk to the trade before taking action in contrast to what was done with respect to first sale valuation. Broadening trade outreach beyond COAC Segment trade customers and focus resources on the 10% of the trade that causes 90% of the non-compliance I characterize this as a sign of humility because it seems like an acknowledgement that the trade feels it has not been well-treated and that it might be at least partially justified. On the other hand, an inside-the-beltway type might see this as pandering to Congress, which has recently been moving toward mandated trade facilitation. Personally, given the current environment, I see it as a genuine effort at fence mending. Let's hope

More from the Courts

Honda of America Mfg., Inc. v. United States We talked about this case when it was before the Court of International Trade and now the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has spoken. The case involves the classification of oil bolts used in cars and motorcycles. Oil bolts are specialized fasteners that include a channel to permit the flow of oil while at the same time holding things in place. Customs classified the oil bolts as screws of 7318.15.80. Honda argued that the proper classification was as vehicle parts in Chapter 87. The first problem for Honda is that Section XVII, Note 2(b) says that "parts" for purposes of Chapter 87 does not include "parts of general use." The second problem is that parts of general use is defined to include fasteners of 7318. Thus, Honda can only win if the fastener is not also described in 7318. Unfortunately, the oil bolts, despite their name, satisfy the legal definition of screws of 7318.15.80 and nothing in the tariff lan

CIT Dumps on Wikipedia

A funny thing happened on the way to deciding BP Products America, Inc. v. United States , the Court of International Trade had to deal with the question of what to do when the parties ask the Court to take into consideration information from Wikipedia. For anyone who has been living without electricity or access to print media for the last five years, Wikipedia is a communally edited encyclopedia of just about everything from the profound to the ridiculously mundane . Wikipedia is not Britannica in that it's content is subject to change by just about anyone. The theory is based on the concept of the wisdom of the herd. By letting everyone comment, the good information will push out the bad (a least over time). The question is whether Wikipedia is authoritative enough to constitute formal evidence in a court proceeding or for purposes of judicial notice. Much has been written on this question in legal circles. See, e.g., this article . In the context of this case, the Court was a