Paper Punches Not for Making Up Paper

Remember the Wilton case on hand-actuated paper punches? The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed the decision of the Court of International Trade that the punches are properly classified in HTSUS Heading 8203 as perforating punches and similar hand tools. The importer had argued for classification in Heading 8441 as "Other machinery for making up paper pulp, paper or paperboard, including cutting machines of all kinds . . . ."

Wilton got hung up on the "for making up" part of that heading. The Court of Appeals held that term to refer to the industrial manufacture of paper and paper products. These punches, which are used for craft projects, are not industrial machines for making up paper products. Thus, under General Rule of Interpretation 1, the correct classification is in 8203.

If you want to read it, the opinion is here.

An interesting procedural note here is that the plaintiff had actually convinced U.S. Customs and Border Protection to classify many of the subject punches in 8441. Despite that agreement, the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals both noted their obligation to reach the correct result and rejected that agreed classification.


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