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Classification of Engineered Wood Flooring Upheld

Thursday, April 04, 2013
By Shawn McCausland
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued April 3 a decision upholding the Court of International Trade’s classification of imported engineered wood flooring panels as plywood under HTSUS 4412.14.31 (8% duty). The plaintiff had argued for classification as assembled parquet panels under HTSUS 4418.30.00 (duty-free).

The flooring panels at issue are composed of multiple layers of wood that are glued together and laminated to resemble solid hardwood flooring. The panels have specially milled edges that allow them to be joined together in their final installation over a structural subfloor.

The plaintiff asserted that these panels are not plywood according to the commercial meaning of that term, but the CAFC said the panels have all three of the common characteristics of plywood cited in its 2004 decision in a related case: there are at least three layers, each layer is arranged at a right angle to its adjacent layer, and the layers are bonded together. The court noted that while the panels at issue possess some unique features related to their intended use as flooring, these features are not sufficiently significant to transform the panels’ identity. The CAFC also ruled that (a) the panels are not classifiable as parquet panels because they do not exhibit the geometric or mosaic pattern characteristic of parquetry and (b) even if the panels are classifiable as builder’s joinery under HTSUS heading 4418, heading 4412 provides the more specific classification.

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