Showing posts from May, 2016

My Point Exactly

For the past couple years, I have been on the record at numerous events and in numerous publications with various ideas for how to make tariff classification litigation more efficient and, therefore, more useful for importers. There are several good ideas floating around about this. Not the least of which is the Court of International Trade's recently announced pilot program for a " small claims " process. Others have done the lion's share of the work on that. My big idea has been to promote early efforts to resolve the legal questions about how to interpret the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. My thought is that if everyone is reading the tariff the same way, the parties will know what facts matter and whether there is a real dispute. With the fact disputes eliminated or narrowed down, discovery can be focused and the parties can get to the controlling issues quickly. It's even possible that, once the parties know the meaning of the tariff terms, cases will be stipu

Ruling of the Week 2016.12: Avalanche Aribag

One of the things I find interesting about my job as that I have the opportunity to learn about all sorts of products that I might not ever see in my real life. One such product is the avalanche airbag. It never occurred to me that such a thing existed, but as soon as I read the words "avalanche" and "airbag" together, the concept made perfect sense. This is the item in question: It is designed to keep the wearer "afloat" in the event of an avalanche. More information about the product is available here . Basically, it is a backpack that incorporates a sturdy balloon and an electrically powered fan to inflate it. Once inflated, the balloon prevents the wearer from being buried in snow. In NY N274983 , Customs was asked to classify this airbag enhanced backpack. My first thought was, "Oh no, this is going in Heading 4202 as a backpack." To me, that seems to undervalue the safety features. Moreover, none of the exemplars in 4202 have safet

Ruling of the Week 2016.11: Seriously?

Calling this post a "Ruling of the Week" is a little disingenuous. It has been many weeks since I was able to make a "weekly" post. Nevertheless, this is my effort to get back on that self-imposed horse. Today, we look at HQ H264891 (Apr. 5, 2016), primarily because before I read this ruling I had never heard of "tendu leaf cones." I bet most you had not. A tendu turns out to be the East Indian Ebony tree, diospyros melanoxylon. Someone decided to import leaves of the tendu tree rolled into a tapered cone and secured with threads and a band. You might reasonably be wondering why anyone would need this product. It turns out that these cones are commonly used as wrappers for bidis, which are an alternative to cigars and can be packed with tobacco or "other smoking mixtures." This image should help illustrate what we are talking about. Keep in mind that as imported the cones were empty. They were, however, packaged with a plastic tool desi

Final Exam 2016: Identity Crisis Edition

You may recall that last year my final exam for Trade Remedies was an elaborate, cinematic fact pattern involving the DC superhero universe. See here for that . Read the comments, which are really quite good. This year, I was not able to string together quite as detailed a fact pattern for my Customs Law class. I did, however, ask this question. Tell me what you think is the correct answer. I will be flexible, but you should not need to stretch too much. I'll be back soon. I promise. QUESTION 3: 25 POINTS Ralph Dibny is the CEO of Plastico, which imports plastic in various forms from suppliers all over the world into the United States. To find suppliers, Ralph relies on two representatives. Reed Richards is responsible for suppliers in South America. Patrick “Eel” O’Brian is responsible for suppliers in Asia. Neither representative is an employee of Plastico. When Plastico wants to purchase materials from South America, Dibny contacts Richards who then finds supplier