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Court Rules on Classification of Play Mats Used in Shopping Carts

Thursday, January 08, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade recently ruled that a play mat designed for use inside a shopping cart as well as in other locations is properly classified as a toy under HTSUS 9503.00.00 (duty-free). U.S. Customs and Border Protection had argued that this mat is an article of bedding and similar furnishing stuffed with any material under HTSUS 9404.90.20 (6 percent duty).

The mat at issue is stuffed with a uniform, light polyester-fiber batting. One side depicts a farm theme and contains brightly colored graphics, five removable activity toys and one sewn-in activity toy. Some of the mat’s features enable its use in shopping carts, such as a detachable waist belt, leg flaps, a crescent-shaped detachable bolster pillow decorated like a pea pod, small pockets designed for parents to store items, and Velcro that secures the mat to the shopping cart seat.

In a previous ruling on similar items, CBP determined that while this play mat “has some amusing features incorporated into the design, this is outweighed by the utilitarian design and purpose of the article which is intended to provide for the safety and comfort of infants while in a shopping cart.” However, the CIT states that while this mat has more utilitarian value than a pure play mat, it also lacks certain features detracting from its overall utility as a shopping cart insert, and thus its utilitarian value cannot be said to outweigh its amusement value.

Having determined that the play mat is classifiable under both headings 9403 and 9404 but that neither heading describes the item in full, the CIT used General Rule of Interpretation 3(b) to conclude that the essential character of the mat is imparted by its toy components.

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