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Bausch & Lomb Inc. v. United States

July 08, 1998

BAUSCH & LOMB INCORPORATED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Before Michel, Plager, and Lourie, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Plager, Circuit Judge.

Appealed from: United States Court of International Trade

Judge R. Kenton Musgrave

This case requires us to answer the question of whether an electric toothbrush is properly classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States ("HTSUS") as a "toothbrush" or as an "electromechanical domestic appliance." In the course of doing so, we have been asked by the trial court to clarify the circumstances under which summary judgment may be granted when there is a dispute over the proper classification. Because the Court of International Trade correctly adJudged the latter classification to be the proper one, Bausch & Lomb, Inc. v. United States, 957 F. Supp. 281, 19 ITRD 1216 (Ct. Int'l Trade 1997), and because we conclude that summary judgment is appropriate in these circumstances, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

The merchandise at issue in this classification case is a battery-operated electric toothbrush sold under the trademark "Interplak." Appellant, Bausch & Lomb, Inc. ("Bausch & Lomb"), imports several different models of this product. For purposes of the present appeal it is sufficient to focus on the common elements of each. As described by the trial court, and admitted by Bausch & Lomb, the Interplak comprises three basic elements:

(1) one to four interchangeable plastic toothbrush heads;

(2) a detachable plastic handle containing a battery-operated motor and a compartment for two rechargeable batteries; and

(3) a stand that incorporates a battery recharger.

Bausch & Lomb, 957 F. Supp. at 282.

Bausch & Lomb imported the subject merchandise into the United States between January 8, 1991 and August 12, 1992. Until February 6, 1991, the merchandise was classified by Customs as "[t]oothbrushes" under HTSUS Subheading 9603.21.00. On that date, however, Customs issued a Notice of Action reclassifying the Interplak as "[o]ther [electromechanical domestic] appliances" under HTSUS Subheading 8509.80.00. Despite their prior treatment as toothbrushes, Customs liquidated the subject merchandise as "[o]ther appliances." Bausch & Lomb filed a protest, claiming that the entries should continue to be classified as "[t]oothbrushes." Customs denied the protest, and Bausch & Lomb filed the present suit in the Court of International Trade under section 515(a) of the Tariff Act of 1930. See 19 U.S.C. § 1515(a) (1994).

Before that court, both parties moved for summary judgment. Finding no genuine issue of material fact, the trial court granted the Government's motion and denied Bausch & Lomb's, holding that, as a matter of law, the Interplak was properly classified as an appliance under 8509.80.00 of the HTSUS. Bausch & Lomb now appeals from that decision. We have jurisdiction over the final decision of the Court of International Trade pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(5) (1994).

Discussi ...


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