Showing posts from January, 2015

Ruling of the Week 215.4: CBP as Fashion Snob

Men's ties are an odd thing. They are completely useless in terms of functionality, unless the function is collection samples of soup and occasionally operating as a choking hazard. It is high time someone took ties to the proverbial next level. It appears that the fine folks at Seasons USA, Inc. have done just that. Apparently, they import a "novelty" tie that incorporates LEDs that light up in amusing patterns of joy. Seasons requested a ruling on the classification of these ties. According to the fashionistas at Customs and Border Protection, ties and bow ties conform to some preconceived notion of acceptable dress. To me, that is just a lack of imagination and fashion adventurism. Who says a light up tie is not acceptable wherever a tie might normally be worn? At a funeral or bar mitzvah, for example. Or a Cabinet Meeting? That's only true if you are not bold enough to do it. But, Customs says a light up tie made of 100% polyester with an elastic band going

No License, No Brokerage

United States v. Freight Forwarder International, Inc . is another recent decision I can dispose of quickly. Here's the deal. A freight forwarder that employs a licensed customs broker but does not hold a corporate license cannot legally engage in customs business. 19 USC 1641(b)(5) and 19 CFR 111.4 . In this case, the defendant paid customs duties to Customs and Border Protection on behalf of importers and invoiced the importer. That is transacting customs business. CBP sought a penalty of $10,000 and the defendant failed to respond. What follows in the reported decision is the Court of International Trade essentially ticking off the boxes showing that the United States has taken the necessary administrative and litigation steps necessary to collect a default judgment. Not surprisingly, the United States Department of Justice did just that and the Court entered a default judgment of $10,000 against the defendant.

Welcome to 2015

In case I have not already said it, Happy New Year. April of this year will mark the 10th year that I have written every word that appears on this blog. I am glad to have done it and hope it continues to be of value to all of you. At this point, I see no reason to stop or slow down and only good reasons to continue the effort. In fact, I would love some ideas from readers on what might make the blog more useful and more valuable, while keeping in mind that this is a side project and not an actual job. What I would really like is to see the blog readership numbers increase and much more interaction in the comments. I am certain not everyone agrees with what I say, what CBP does, or what the courts do. Let me know and we can have some discussion about it. I'd also like to see the blog make it into the "Niche" category of the ABA Journal's Blawg 100 . I should get there just for longevity if not for my scintillating content. In the meantime, let's learn a less

Ruling of the Week 2015.3: NAFTA CO by Power of Attorney

First, let me acknowledge what might be very obvious to you: the Court of International Trade has been pushing out customs opinions at an impressive rate this year. I am behind on cases, which prevents me from being behind on work. I will catch up. This week's ruling (HQ H256731) answers a question that comes up all the time. The question is whether employees of an American parent company can issue NAFTA certificates of origin on behalf of a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary. Presumably, the same answer would apply to a Mexican subsidiary. The facts here are simple and familiar. The company involved is S.C. Johnson & Sons. SCJ has a wholly-owned subsidiary in Canada that manufactures goods for export to the U.S. SCJ Canada, through its officers, acting pursuant to authority granted by the Board of Directors, has granted two employees of the Wisconsin-based parent company Powers of Attorney authorizing them to execute NAFTA Certificates of Origin on behalf of the Canadian su

Ruling of the Week 2015.2: Sharks, Jets, & Switchblade Knives

You may not be aware of the scope of laws Customs and Border Protection is charged with enforcing. One special category of activity for CBP is the interdiction of restricted or inadmissible merchandise. One such item is the switchblade knife. Under 15 USC 1242 (the Switchblade Knife Act), it is illegal to introduce into interstate commerce any switchblade knife. If you were to do so, you would be subject to a $2,000 fine and up to five years in prison. The knives themselves are subject to forfeiture. There are certain exceptions for the carrier and for knives for the Armed Forces. It is also legal for a person with one arm to carry on his or her person a switchblade with a blade three inches or less in length. Finally, there is a complicated exception for spring action knives that have a mechanical bias toward being closed and require exertion of the hand, wrist, or arm to overcome that bias (sort of a reverse switchblade). Customs' regulations define a switchblade as: Any i

Ruling of the Week 2015.1: Boo Boo Packs

This is the first “Ruling of the Week” for 2015. I’m going to do my best to get 52 of these to you this year. “My best,” of course is not a guaranty. I am already a week behind. So sue me. Today’s ruling is HQ H253885, which is technically still a proposed ruling. It is in the Customs Bulletin and Decisions, Volume 49, dated January 1, 2015 . The merchandise involved is the “Boo Boo Pack,” which is a plush fabric animal (e.g., a teddy bear or adorable hippo) that is designed to accommodate a gel pack that can be either heated or frozen. The hot or cold animal is used to treat minor injuries in children (and probably to preserve the nerves of their parents). The animals are imported with the gel packs. This proposed ruling impacts a number of rulings on similar products with different styles of inserts. One insert was a mixture of rice and lavender and must have been intended for someone other than me. Others were combinations of water and propylene glycol. In the previous rulin

Infantino in a Flash

Infantino, LLC v. United States Parents of a certain socio-economic status want to protect their small children from real and perceived dangers including the horrible wire and plastic seats on grocery store shopping carts. You have, no doubt, seen chubby baby legs kicking their way through the square wire openings while parents meet in the produce section to commiserate over the price of soccer cleats and debate which local orthodontist has the best espresso machine in the parents' lounge. Happily, there is a solution in the form of the Funny Farmer Shop & Play 2-in-1 play mat from Infantino. This product is a play mat printed with a farm theme and having detachable toys. It also includes features that make it suitable for use in a shopping cart. Those features include a waist belt, leg flaps, pea pod shaped pillow bolster, and hook and loop closures to secure it to the otherwise offensive shopping cart seat. According to the related advertising, the Funny Farmer is perfect