Showing posts from December, 2016

The Three-Percent Solution

In real life, I represent importers and exporters who need to maintain compliance with U.S. laws and regulations concerning international trade. For the most part, that means customs law and export controls. As Bryan Garner once said at a seminar I attended, "hence the title" [of my blog]. One of the more complicated and potentially troublesome areas of compliance for importers involves antidumping and countervailing duty orders. The financial consequences of such an order can be dire for companies that entered into purchase contracts prior to the order or without knowing that an order applied to the goods. Often, the latter happens when suppliers assure the buyer that merchandise is either outside the scope of the order or from a source other than the subject country. Unfortunately, suppliers may be uninformed on the scope of the order, too happy to falsely state the origin of the product, or willing to misrepresent that it is otherwise outside the scope of an order. An u

Substantial Transformation Redux

Note: I am writing this post while on vacation at an undisclosed location. The Internet here is lousy. I am paying a fair amount of money for "high speed access." Despite that, I feel like I am working on a vintage 3600 baud dial-up modem. Consequently, you will have to make do with two links. I might go back and fill in more when I have a decent connection. We just talked about a Customs and Border Protection ruling in which I complained about CBP straying from the traditional substantial transformation test of looking for a change in name, character, or use to determine country of origin. Now we run up against Energizer Battery, Inc. v.United States , in which the Court of International Trade addressed essentially the same question. The CIT started out strong and raised my expectations that we would see a very detailed analysis of the test. We did get a thorough and logical opinion. But, I still have some concerns. So, let’s walk through this. Under the Buy America

White Sauce Attorneys' Fees Upheld

You may recall that the Court of International awarded attorneys fees to the plaintiff in International Custom Products v. United States. This case has a very complicated litigation history. I will not review that here. You should go back and read the original post about the CIT decision on fees. Now, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed the CIT's decision. That is a substantial victory for the plaintiff. What you need to know is that Customs and Border Protection issued a binding ruling to ICP on the classification of its "white sauce." Customs subsequent issued a Notice of Action reclassifying unliquidated entries under a different provision. CBP did not take steps to revoke or modify the prior ruling before taking this action. As a result of the reclassification, and the resulting application of dairy quota, the duty payable on this merchandise increased by 2400%. The subsequent litigation resulted in five judicial opinions including two prior

Holiday Edition

This is one of those posts in which I tell you that there are many cases and rulings sitting on my desk, all of which I plan to use as the basis for upcoming blog posts. It is also the end of the year and the time when I contemplate the state of this blog. [Note: Shaking my fist at the ABA Journal ] This has been a good blog year, despite having fallen behind on my coverage of rulings. My personal view is that the content remains of acceptably high quality combined with it usually being timely. So that's good. I did earn recognition from the Expert Institute ; fifth place out of a large field is not too bad. Thanks for your votes. I'll continue to plug along here and hope you stay with me in an 2017. As always, I sincerely appreciate my readers. At the recent Court of International Trade Judicial Conference and at a trade meeting in Chicago, folks introduced themselves as readers. That always makes me happy. I hope to see more of you at upcoming events. Feel free to comment o

Is that a Pine Nut?

I watch competitive cooking the way a stereotypical American male might watch baseball. I don't care if it is Top Chef or Chopped at the high end or the dreck that is Cupcake Wars and The Great American Food Truck Race. I don't watch kids compete, that's where I draw the line. I also like to eat. As a result, I am familiar with a lot of strange food items. Pine nuts are not all that odd. I recently learned a lot more about pine nuts when I read Specialty Commodities Inc. v. United States , which involves the tariff classification of the seed of the Korean pine nut, Pinus koraiensis. Customs and Border Protection classified these seeds as "Other nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled: Other: Other: Shelled: Other" in HTSUS item 0802.90.97. The plaintiff believes they are best classified in 0802.90.25 as "Pignolia: Shelled." Clearly, the question is whether the seed of the Koreas pine, from China, is a "Pignolia" for purpose

Ruling of the Week 2016.23: Patents and Value

We don't talk enough about customs value here. It is important, complicated, and interesting. It deserves more attention. There are, however, also fewer rulings and cases on valuation questions. Happily, this one (HQ H233376, Sep. 19, 2016) caught my eye. The issue is whether a royalty paid to a U.S. patent holder who is unrelated to the importer is dutiable when the royalty is paid not by the importer but by the importer's parent company. The patents at issue are all utility patents, meaning that they relate to new and useful inventions rather than to the design aesthetics of the item. A utility patent generally involves the critical technology that defines or empowers the invention. The license grants to the importer (via a predecessor company, just to complicate matters) "to make, have made, use, sell, offer for sale and import Licensed Devices" worldwide. The license also authorizes the licensee to disclose to the manufacturer, who is in Malaysia, the informati

Ruling of the Week 2016.22: Framing Substantrial Transformation

I like bikes. Lately, that is more in theory than in actual usage, but that is my fault. In reality, bikes are a transformative technology. They give kids their first sense of independence. They give everyone a means of transportation with zero carbon emissions. In some cases, the availability of that transportation may be lifesaving . Thus, when I see something at work that involves bicycles, I usually take note. Such is the case with the September 21, 2016 Customs Bulleting and Decisions in which Customs and Border Protection revoked a ruling, N269994 (Nov. 20, 2015), on the country of origin of bicycles. The bicycle in question is assembled in the United States from imported components, including frames. Customs had previously ruled that assembling components to a U.S.-origin frame produces a bike with the U.S. as the country of origin. In N269994, it apparently misapplied that same analysis to find the U.S. to be the country of origin of bicycles with imported frames. In thi