Showing posts from March, 2016

CITBA Annual Meeting and CLE, April 21

Join CITBA for a CLE event on April 21 to be held at the Court of International Trade in New York. Details and registration is available here . Registration is a little funky for now. You'll need to click select Event in the box on the left side of the Meetings, then click Buy Now. After that, fill in the registration amount ($60 for general members, $30 for government employees) and your payment method. Please RSVP to . We're going to work on improving that process.

Krill Oil, Cryptozoology, and Tariff Classification

Podcasts are a terrible thing if you expect to do work or read books while otherwise leading a productive life. Among the many I listen to somewhat regularly is Tetrapod Zoology , from which I learn all kinds of thing about both real and fanciful zoology. It's worth a listen, though it may be a bit of an acquired taste. I came to it through the side door. Co-host Darren Naish is an actual, credentialed scientist who is willing to talk about allegedly unidentified megafauna (e.g., the Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, and Bigfoot), not because they exist but because the notion that they might is entertaining. He and his co-host John Conway are fully comfortable trying to imagine how something as absurd as the Mongolian Death Worm might exist in the real world (because it does not). Why I am on about this? Because I have been wracking by brain trying to think of puns involving krill and the baleen whales that eat them. It turns out that people eat krill oil as a dietary supplement, whi

Reminder: DiCarlo Lecture and CLE Program April 14, 2016

Don't forget to register for the upcoming DiCarlo lecture and the CLE event at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. It's April 14, 2016. Speakers will include Chief Judge Timothy Stanceu of the U.S. Court of International Trade. Registration information is here .

Ruling of the Week 2016.10: Share-A-Dram and NAFTA Marking

I've been at this a long time. Nevertheless, I am still sometimes surprised. That happened when I read N272495 (Mar. 1, 2016) . There are two "travel kits" at issue in this ruling. These are travel kits of the kind used by Victorian gentlemen tromping around the Amazon or Africa trailing a line of porters carrying their necessities. In this case, the necessities include six glass bottles with caps, two pipets, a funnel, coasters, a whisky taking journal, some other stuff, and a leather case for all of it. There is also a Share-A-Dram kit consisting of 12 glass bottles, a funnel, paper neck tags, and sample tasting ledger. Customs and Border Protection decided that these kits are to be classified as retail sets based on the single item that imparts their essential character. For the travel kits and the Share-A-Dram, that is the glassware, specifically the drinking glasses, which are the most expensive glass items. Here's the more interesting point. The drinking g

Congrats ICPA

Congratulations to ICPA on another successful (and sold out) conference. I heard lots of good talks and had fun fake-litigating the classification of chopped olives . Sadly, I lost. I also got to do a last-minute recycling of my talk on tariff engineering , which was both fun and efficient (since the work was already done). Thanks to all the blog readers who introduced themselves. See you next year.

Ruling of the Week 2016.9: Contact

Having already invoked Star Trek: First Contact today, I will now reference Contact. Arecibo, Puerto Rico is probably most famous for being the location of the Arecibo radio telescope observatory . It was there that the fictional astronomer from Carl Sagan's book, played by Jodie Foster in the movie , successfully decoded a message from intelligent aliens. The book is better than the movie, but both are worthwhile. Recently, Arecibo became home to a 360-foot monument to the European discovery of the New World. Note that 300 feet is roughly the size of the Statute of Liberty. The customs issue in NY N272432 (Feb. 26, 2016) does not have to do with the statute. Instead, it has to do with tchotchkes sold as souvenirs in the gift shop near the monument. In particular coffee mugs that have the words "Puerto Rico" or "Arecibo, Puerto Rico" printed on them. The question presented to Customs and Border Protection was how to properly mark these mugs with th

Ruling of the Week 2016.8: Silence of the Borg

By my calculation, this is week 10 of 2016 and this is ROTW 8, I am getting close. Today's ruling might make the squeamish among you go "Eww," but it shouldn't. The product in question is a three-dimensional reconstructed human epidermis. When I read that, I pictured a fully human-shaped skin ready for taxidermy or some more nefarious use. The reality is far more mundane and much more scientifically cool. The ruling is NY N270364 (February 19, 2016) . The product turns out to be an "in vitro " epidermis grown from human skin and other cells cultured on a polycarbonate substrate. Here is the technical lowdown on it. The commercial purpose of this is not to build Buffalo Bill-style human skin suits  or to give Mr. Data goosebumps. The idea is to have an in vitro model for testing drugs, cosmetics, etc. Star Trek: First Contact According to Customs, this item is classified as "Human blood . . . vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (exc

Ruling of the Week 2016.7: Microsoft Band

First things first, I admit that I am in the tank for Microsoft products. I have multiple Windows 10 computers and a Windows 10 tablet. I am also on my third Windows Phone. I stared with a Samsung Windows 7 device, moved to a Nokia Lumia 920, and now carry a Lumia 950, which I keep slightly ahead of the curve through the Insiders program. I recently got my hands briefly on a Surface Book, on which I have a serious crush. I also have most of my personal data in the Microsoft cloud via OneDrive and Office 365. I am, as you can see, all in on Windows. Nevertheless, I do not have a Microsoft Band fitness tracker. Before we discuss why I have so far skipped the Microsoft Band, we should talk about its tariff classification. I raise this because Customs recently ruled on the question. According to HQ H265035 (Jan. 19, 2016) , the Microsoft Band is classified in subheading 8517.62.00, HTSUS, as an apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images, or data . . . ." This

JBLU: A Trademark is a Trademark

Remember JBLU, Inc. v. United States ? It was an interesting Court of International Trade decision involving whether the use of a geographic terms in a trademark required a country of origin marking in close proximity when the trademark was not registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. What is at issue here is 19 CFR §§ 134.46 and 134.47. Under § 134.46, when a geographic location is indicated on an imported article or its container, and that indication may mislead the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin, then the article must also be marked with it correct country of origin in close proximity. Section 134.47 provides a more lenient rule where the geographical indication is part of a trademark or trade name. According to the Court of International Trade, without a registration or a pending application, the use of the geographic indicator triggers the more strict requirement for a close-by country of origin marking. The Court of Appeals for the Federal

Come see me April 14

If you area a compliance person in the Chicago area, please come to the DiCarlo Lecture and CLE event at the John Marshall Law School on April 14. The event will end with a talk by Chief Judge Stanceu of the U.S. Court of International Trade. There will be a two hour CLE event leading up to his talk. The first panel will focus on international corporate compliance and ethics. The second panel, which I will moderate, will focus on Customs and Border Protection penalty cases. Judge Stanceu is expected to talk about the international harmonization of tariff law and its impact on U.S. court cases. The CLE event requires a registration fee. The DiCarlo Lecture, which is Chief Judge Stanceu's talk, is free, but registration is required. Click the link above to register.

Ruling of the Week 2016.6: His (K)nobs

Here is a classic classification ruling I use for teaching. It is a good example of how applying General Rule of Interpretation 1 almost always gets to the result, even if that result seems counterintuitive. The ruling is NY J82174 (Mar. 31, 2003) .  Just to be clear, I know the ruling was subsequently modified , but not in a way that is meaningful for this analysis. I'll deal with that at the end. The products involved are rotary knobs for household appliances. They go on washing machines, dryers, electric stoves and gas stoves. They are all made of plastic with small amounts of metal at the insertion point for to attached to the post from the internal workings of the device. All of the knobs have an indicator mark used to line up to the control variable on the appliance. In other word, there is pointer on the knob that will show whether the stove is set to high, medium, low or what have you. With one exception, all of the appliances are classified in Section XVI, Chapters 84