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Court Says Glass Vases Packaged with Flowers Not Used for Packing of Goods

Monday, July 14, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld the Court of International Trade’s decision in Dependable Packaging Solutions Inc. v. U.S. that two styles of glass vases are properly classified as other glassware of a kind used for indoor decoration or similar purposes under HTSUS 7013.99.40 and 7013.99.50. These vases have “an inexpensive look and visible seams” and are imported empty, whereupon they are sold to mass-market flower packing houses that fill them with flowers and water. The packing houses then ship the flower-filled vases to retailers, which display and sell the flowers and vases as a unit.

The plaintiff argued that the vases should be classified under HTSUS 7010, which covers glass containers of a kind used for the conveyance or packing of goods, because they are made of glass and their actual use is for the wet packing and conveyance of flowers from the packing house to retailers. However, the CAFC upholds the CIT’s Carborundum analysis concluding that these vases are commercially fungible with other clear glass vases that are primarily used for decorative purposes, that the actual use of the vases is primarily decorative, that ultimate purchasers buy the vases for primarily decorative purposes rather than for conveyance or packing, and that the movement of the vases in trade merely suggests that they travel in an atypical manner to the final purchasers, who then employ them in a typical manner. The CAFC also points out that the plaintiff itself identifies the articles at issue as vases (e.g., in commercial invoices and sales brochures), which are specifically identified in the Explanatory Notes to HTSUS 7013 as exemplary of glass items used for indoor decoration that fall under that heading.

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