Federal Circuit - “Essential character” determination for HTSUS classification of atmospheric, weather devices 

July 25:  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today reversed a decision of the trade court concerning the proper classification of certain electronic devices that measure and display atmospheric and weather conditions. The majority opinion applied General Rule of Interpretation 3(b), which requires a determination as to the “essential character” of the devices in dispute. La Cross Technology, Ltd. v. United States, 2012-1370 (Fed. Cir. July 25, 2013)

A dissenting opinion was filed.


Read the Federal Circuit decision [PDF 131 KB]

Summary

The issue in this case concerns a dispute regarding the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) classification of several models of imported electronic devices that measure and display atmospheric and weather conditions.


The devices also display the time and date.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) classified all the devices as “other clocks” under HTSUS subheading 9105.91.40.


The importer challenged CBP’s classification, and the U.S. Court of International Trade reclassified certain of the imported devices, by dividing the subject devices into three general categories:


  • Weather station models under HTSUS subheading 9025.80.10, which includes thermometers, barometers, hygrometers
  • Professional models, under HTSUS subheading 9015.80.80, which includes certain “meteorological . . . instruments and appliances”
  • Clock models under HTSUS subheading 9105.91.40, which includes certain clocks

On appeal to the Federal Circuit, the importer challenged the trade court’s classification of a number of devices the court as weather station and clock models.


The Federal Circuit today determined that the models at issue on appeal are properly classified under HTSUS subheading 9015.80.80 and thus reversed the judgment of the trade court with respect to the models at issue on appeal and issued an order to CBP to reliquidate these models in accordance with their classification under subheading 9015.80.80.



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