Showing posts from February, 2013

Customs Law from the 11th Circuit

Sometimes interesting customs law cases come from outside the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In this case, it comes from the Eleventh Circuit, with a special guest appearance from the Court of International Trade. The case is United States v. Izurieta , which involved two individuals (both named Izurieta), who started a trading company to import food products from Central America for distribution in the United States. It turns out that several entries of food products were contaminated with a number of nasty pathogens including E. coli and Salmonella. The legal problem for the defendants stems from their failure to redeliver the merchandise to Customs and Border Protection when demanded. Keep in mind what happens to food when it arrives for entry. First, the paperwork or electronic data is examined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The goods then go through approval and possible inspection by the Department of Agriculture. Finall

Feds join whistle-blower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong -

The False Claims Act is a powerful tool. It allows individuals who have information concerning false statements made to the U.S. government to file a law suit on behalf of the United States when the false statements were made to secure some benefit from the government. The Justice Department then decides whether to take up the suit or to leave it to the private party to pursue. This applies in all sorts of interactions with the government. For example, there are often False Claims Act cases brought against doctors who over bill the federal government for Medicare patients. Whistle blowers also file these cases against government contractors. The False Claims Act can also be invoked where someone makes a false statement to the government to avoid some expense. The party bringing the suit (technically the  "relator" rather than the plaintiff) is initially anonymous and is entitled to a portion of the recovery, which can be substantial. One place I have never seen a False Cla

Dependable Classification Solutions

Dependable Packaging Solutions v. United States involves the tariff classification of inexpensive open top glass vessles imported from China. As with most classification cases, there was no dispute as to the nature of the merchandise. The two headings in question here were 7010 and 7013, which cover: 7010 Carboys, bottles, flasks, jars, pots, vials, ampoules and other containers, of glass, of a kind used for the conveyance or packing of goods; preserving jars of glass; stoppers, lids and other closures, of glass . . . . 7013 Glassware of a kind used for table, kitchen, toilet, office, indoor decoration or similar purposes (other than that of heading 7010 or 7018) . . . .    Both of these headings require classification to be based on principal use. Plaintiff claimed that the goods, which were not imported with or designed for use with a secure closure, were "of a kind used for the conveyance or packing of goods." If that were correct, the vases would be classi


UPDATED TO ADD LINK TO FCBA/CITBA EVENT. In case you were wondering, I am here. I've had a lot going on at work and have also been trying to finalize a law review article. Luckily, I have been able to enlist the services of a recent John Marshall Law School grad to finish up some of the detail work. I hope that is coming to an end and that I can get it published. Also on the update front, I'll be speaking at the Georgetown 2013 International Trade Update on March 1. The program start on February 28. This is always a good program. It is worth the effort to attend. The details are here . Then, on March 21, I'll be in New York to speak at a program sponsored by the Federal Circuit Bar Association and the Customs and International Trade Bar Association . In between, I'll be at the ICPA conference . Yes, there are a lot of air miles between those events. As always, if you see me at any event, please introduce yourself.

Detentions, Exclusions & Protests

This post is really just an elaborate link to this article on my law firm's web site. The article talks about what I call the magic space of time in which you can challenge Customs and Border Protection's exclusion of merchandise in the Court of International Trade. This gap is the time between the merchandise being "detained" and Customs actually seizing it. In the space, the merchandise is technically "excluded" and the exclusion is protestable. Go read the article . Note to self: a Bing search for images of "Customs Seizures" terns up lots of NSFW content. I am reminded that  Customs and Border Protection also has jurisdiction over obscene material entering the country.

New Proposal on Counterfeits

Currently, when Customs and Border Protection detains merchandise suspected of being counterfeit, it has to do a fairly difficult dance with respect to dealing with the owner of the trademark. This is because the importer has rights under the federal Trade Secrets Act that protect it from Customs releasing business proprietary information to the anyone including the trademark owner. Consequently, the Import Specialist who suspects a product is counterfeit cannot simply send a complete sample to the trademark holder and ask for confirmation. Rather, at the time the merchandise is presented to Customs for examination, Customs may provide pictures or samples of the merchandise and its packaging, provided that identifying information has been removed or obliterated. The information that needs to be removed includes serial numbers, dates of manufacture, UPC codes, patch numbers, exporter, importer, etc. For the trademark owner, much of that information is very helpful in determining wheth