Showing posts from August, 2015

Ruling of the Week 2015.25: Stipulation Schmipulation

This one is for the lawyers. I'll try my best to make it not too far "inside baseball." Cases in the Court of International Trade don't always result in a published opinion. There are lots of ways customs cases get resolved. It is possible that one side or the other will just give up and file a voluntary dismissal. In other cases, the parties come to an agreement as to the proper treatment of the entry in favor of the plaintiff. When that happens, the parties file a Stipulated Judgment on Agreed Statement of Facts under Rule 58.1 . The Court will usually then enter the judgment and Customs will reliquidate the entry with a refund to the plaintiff or cut a lump-sum refund check. Sometimes there is a combination of events. Because of the large number of related cases at the CIT, the Court has a unique process by which it allows parties to designate a case a "test case" ( Rule 84 ) while suspending other cases that involve the same issues. Once the test ca

Finality of Liquidation and the Loss of Defenses

Most people assume that when sued by the United States for unpaid customs duties, taxes, fees, and interest, the defendant will have an opportunity to assert all available defenses to the claim against it. That is technically true. The question is which defenses are available. United States v. American Home Assurance Co. , has made the answer to that question a bit clearer, but maybe not in a good way. American Home ("AHAC") is the surety on a number of bonds covering the importation of mushroom and crawfish tail meat from China. Both of those products are subject to antidumping duty orders. Customs and Border Protection liquidated the entries and assessed antidumping duties. When the importer defaulted, the government tried to collect from AHAC and informed AHAC of its intent to seek post-judgment interest. AHAC protested the demands for payment of duties and interest. Customs denied the protests.  Therein lies the problem. Section 1514 of the Tariff Act of 1930 ( 19 USC

Ruling of the Week 2015.24: How Wide is Your Bike Lock?

Although I have actually been on my bike a shamefully few times this year, I remain interested in all things related to cycling, particularly commuting by bike. A key tool for a bike commuter is a good, solid lock. Thus, I noticed H168717 (July 17, 2015) in the August 12, 2015 Customs Bulletin . You will need to scroll to page 90 to find the ruling. The issue is the proper classification of Master Lock cable locks. Customs originally classified the locks in HTSUS item 8301.10.50 as "Padlocks: not of cylinder or pin tumbler construction: Over 6.4 cm in width." That tariff item has a duty rate of 3.6%. Master Lock argued for classification in item 8301.10.20, which covers locks with a width not over 3.8 cm and has a duty rate of 2.3%. I am going to save myself two thousand words by saying, this is what we are talking about: 8020D: Picture from Amazon 8119DPF: Picture from Amazon You can see where this is going, right? The sole question is, "What is the correc

Ruling of the Week 2015.23: How Smart is Your Watch?

Smart watches are cool new technology. Generally, I want cool new technology. I'm not so interested in a smart watch, at least not at the moment. One reason for this is that I am firmly commitment to my Windows Phone. I have little interest in a watch that requires me to have an iOS or Android phone. Microsoft does not sell a smartwatch, although its former partner Nokia was shopping one . I have some interest in a Microsoft band, which is supposed to have impressive utility for cycling . But, I hear there is a new version on the horizon, so I am waiting. That said, I am struggling to get my current bike computer (a Polar CS300) working. So, I am also kind of jonesing for a Polar M450 . These are clearly my first world issues. A more relevant consideration for this blog is the proper tariff treatment of a smartwatch. Customs recently settled the issue, at least with respect to a Samsung "Gear" Live Android smartwatch. See HQ H257947 (July 14, 2015) . The watch uses Bl

About that Lion and the Lacey Act

A lot has been said about the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. From the perspective of this blog, the question being asked is whether the American dentist violated any U.S. laws. The short answer is that I don't know for certain whether any criminal laws have been violated. What has come up in the trade context is whether the hunter violated the Lacey Act. Since Lacey impacts trade, it pops up in my practice and is worth a short exploration. The Lacey Act was first passed in 1900 and is an early conservation law. As originally enacted, it protected animals from illegal hunting through criminal and civil penalties. The law also prohibits trade in protected animal and plant species that are hunted or harvested illegally. It is a crime to import into the United States any injurious animals including brown tree snakes, big head carp, zebra mussels, and flying fox bats. 18 USC 42 . Exceptions can be made for properly permitted (and dead) zoological specime