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Western States Import Co. v. United States

September 11, 1998

WESTERN STATES IMPORT CO., INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE UNITED STATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Rich, Circuit Judge, Smith, Senior Circuit Judge, and Bryson, Circuit Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Smith, Senior Circuit Judge

Appealed from: United States Court of International Trade Judge Thomas J. Aquilino, Jr. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Western States Import Company appeals the decision of the U.S. Court of International Trade upholding U.S. Customs' classification of certain "cross" bicycles under HTSUS 8712.00.25. Western States Import Co. v. United States, 932 F. Supp. 1483, 18 ITRD 1826 (Ct. Int'l Trade 1996). Because the Court of International Trade properly adJudged Customs' classification, we affirm.

Background

This case, which has been designated a test case by Customs, involves the proper classification of bicycles imported by appellant Western States Import Company ("WSI"). WSI imports bicycles manufactured in China and sells them in the U.S. under the brand name "Diamond Back." The bicycles at issue are known as "cross" or "hybrid" bicycles because they contain features of both mountain bikes and road bikes. Bicycles with wheels greater than 25 inches in diameter are properly classified under one of two subheadings of Heading 8712 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States ("HTSUS"). Road bikes are classified under 8712.00.25 at 5.5% duty, while mountain bikes are classified under 8712.00.35 at 11% duty.

The provisions of the HTSUS at issue read as follows: 8712.00 Bicycles and other cycles (including delivery tricycles), not motorized:

Bicycles having both wheels exceeding 63.5 cm [25 inches] in diameter:

8712.00.25 If weighing less than 16.3 kg [36 pounds] complete without accessories and not designed for use with tires having a cross-sectional diameter exceeding 4.13 cm [1.625 inches] . . . 5.5%

8712.00.35 Other . . .11%

The bicycles at issue have wheels exceeding 63.5 cm in diameter and weigh less than 16.3 kg. At the time of importation, the bicycles are equipped with tires having a cross-sectional diameter of 3.8 cm. However, the frames are designed such that the bicycles could readily accommodate tires with a cross-sectional diameter exceeding 4.13 cm.

Customs classified the imported bicycles under subheading 8712.00.35, HTSUS. The Court of International Trade found that prior to 1990, Customs had classified such bicycles according to the tires with which they are imported. Customs later decided in a ruling letter that these bicycles should be classified under HTSUS 8712.00.25 only if important design features preclude the use of tires exceeding 4.13 cm in diameter.

On cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court of International Trade considered the provisions of the HTSUS at issue and determined that the language "not designed for use with tires having a cross-sectional diameter exceeding 4.13 cm" required WSI to demonstrate that the design of the bicycles was such that it could not be used with tires exceeding 4.13 cm in diameter. Western States Import, 932 F. Supp. at 1488. The court noted that "bicycles tires are changeable, as are the wheels upon which they are mounted. Nor are they necessarily a constant vis-à-vis the structural components to which they attach." Id. at 1487. Noting that the imported bicycles are sometimes used with tires exceeding 4.13 cm, the trial court concluded that Customs' classification of the bicycles under subheading 8712.00.35 was correct. See id. at 1488.

The Court of International Trade, therefore, denied WSI's motion for summary judgment and granted the government's cross-motion for summary judgment. This appeal followed. Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

This court has jurisdiction over an appeal from the Court of International Trade pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1295 (a)(5). We review the interpretation of tariff schedules completely and independently. See Guess? Inc. v. United States, 944 F.2d 855, 857 (Fed. Cir. 1991). Likewise, we ...


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