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Bioreactor Systems Aiding Culturing of Cells Classified as Mixing Machines, CIT Says

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

In a Dec. 12 decision in Applikon Biotechnology Inc. v. U.S., the Court of International Trade ruled on the proper classification of bioreactor systems. These systems maintain an aseptic and homogenous environment in which to culture cells through a process of continuous mixing or stirring. They also include equipment used for optional functions such as control of pH, dissolved oxygen and temperature.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection had classified the systems under HTSUS 8149.89.95 as other machinery for the treatment of materials by a process involving a change of temperature (4.2% duty). However, the CIT agrees with Applikon that the systems are classifiable under HSUS 8479.82.00 as other mixing or stirring machines (duty-free). The court notes that while the systems can control the temperature of the cell medium, that function is subsidiary to the overall function, is not used by every process to which the systems are suitable, and is designed to keep the temperature constant rather than change it. The CIT concludes that because the undisputed principal purpose of the systems is to grow cells, a purpose not described in any heading in Chapter 84, they are classified in heading 8479, as directed by Note 7 to Chapter 84.

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