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Bottle Toppers Not Classified as Toys, Court Says

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade has ruled that bottle toppers depicting the heads and/or busts of popular children’s characters that are fastened to a screw-top straw and base made for use with children’s beverages are properly classified as plastic caps and other closures under HTSUS 3923.50 (5.3 percent duty). The plaintiff had argued for classification as toys under HTSUS heading 9503.00.00 (duty-free).

Evaluating the Carborundum factors used to determine the principal use of an item alleged to be a toy, the CIT determined that even if children sometimes play with the toppers, they are first and foremost bought and used for their functional attributes. In addition, while the toppers possess certain toy-like features, those are ancillary to the inherent functional qualities. The CIT also found that the toppers are typically sold with other consumables and not in store locations that display toys.

“More interesting,” states ST&R trade attorney Robert Grasing, “is the CIT’s read on Note 1(v) to Chapter 95, which excludes certain utilitarian goods from classification in that chapter. The CIT seems to read this note it as only applying where products are not principally used as toys, festive, etc., which would be a narrower application than CBP has followed over the years.”

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