Showing posts from May, 2019

Words Matter in HS Classification

When inexplicably up at 5:00 AM with no prospect of going back to sleep seems to be as good a time as any to catch up on blog posts. Aero Rubber Company v. United States has already had some coverage on the blog. The first time we discussed this case, it was as a Customs and Border Protection ruling . The second time was in connection with a Court of International Trade decision on the admissibility of evidence . Now, the CIT has issued a decision on the merits. The merchandise at issue is silicone bands with writing on them. These are larger than wrist size and are used to bind together or secure various items including brochures, video game accessories, aircraft parts, and restaurant menus. Customs classified the bands in Heading 3926 as articles of plastic. The plaintiff argues that the words on the bands require that they be classified in Heading 4911 as other printed matter. Key to this decision is Section VII, Note 2, which states that: Except for the goods of heading 3

Clash with a Titan

Being an importer is fraught with legal peril. It just is. Often, importers are unaware of legal requirements. In other cases, the importer doesn't care and assumes that its small or infrequent transactions are unlikely to get noticed. That might have been a viable (if not compliant) strategy 20 years ago. Back in the day, the biggest risk to the non-compliant importer was that a Customs Officer would actually open a container and find something amiss. Today, Customs and Border Protection operates in the era of big data. Using targeting algorithms, CBP computers can find discrepancies based on country of origin, country of export, classification, and value. A little data mining based on those factors can pluck the enforcement needled from the haystack of international trade. So, the baseline advice for importers is: know the law, be compliant, and don't assume you will not be caught. That would have been good advice for a company called Titan Metals Corporation , which is

Humbug from the Federal Circuit

We have discussed the classification of so-called festive articles many times on this blog. See, for example here , here , and here . The last of those links goes to my analysis of the Court of International Trade's decision to classify a well-made Santa suit as articles of apparel rather as duty-free festive articles. The Federal Circuit has now affirmed that decision in Rubie Costume Company v. United States . In terms of law, there is not much new in Rubies. The issue turns on whether a particularly well-made Santa suit is "fancy dress." If so, it is excluded from Chapter 95, which covers festive articles, by the action of Chapter 95, Note 1(e). "Fancy dress" is not defined in the tariff. The Federal Circuit did define it in a previous Rubies' case as encompassing costumes that are classifiable as wearing apparel. A costume is wearing apparel if it is not flimsy and poorly constructed. A costume is not flimsy if it has features like finished edges, zipp