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Installation of Software in U.S. Not Sufficient to Change Product’s Identity, CBP Rules

Thursday, May 24, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final determination concerning the country of origin of vehicle digital video cameras that may be offered to the U.S. government under an undesignated government procurement contract. Any party-at-interest may seek judicial review of this determination by June 25. CBP issues country of origin advisory rulings and final determinations as to whether an article is or would be a product of a designated country or instrumentality for the purposes of granting waivers of certain “Buy American” restrictions in U.S. law or practice for products offered for sale to the U.S. government.

The item at issue is a high-resolution digital video camera installed in a vehicle for streaming and recording images in real time. It is comprised of a single or several cameras as well as related cabling and a receiver compatible for use specifically with the petitioner’s software and mobile applications.

The camera is made in China and sourced from a Chinese firm. The firmware loaded onto the camera to allow it to be operational with the petitioner’s software was developed in China based on the design, specifications, and software architecture produced in the U.S. Upon importing the camera and the firmware code, the firmware is loaded and installed on the camera in the U.S. The cabling units, including the receivers, are purchased from one or more manufacturers and are manufactured and procured from other TAA-compliant jurisdictions. The hardware and related firmware are installed with the cabling and integrated with the software platform in the U.S.

In ruling HQ H294933 CBP concludes that the imported components are not substantially transformed through the downloading of the proprietary software in the U.S. CBP states that upon importation the camera is capable of fully functioning as a digital video camera without the software, which only customizes the camera to a particular use but does not change its basic identity. As a result, the country of origin of the cameras is China, where the cameras and firmware were originally produced.

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