The Container Store v. United States, No. 16-1666 (Fed. Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Container Store’s top tracks and hanging standards, components of its elfa® modular storage and organization system, were imported through Houston in 2007-2008. Customs liquidated the merchandise under Harmonized Tariff Schedule subheading 8302.41.60, a provision for base metal mountings and fittings suitable for buildings. Container Store filed unsuccessful protests, arguing that the merchandise should be classified under subheading 9403.90.80 as parts of furniture. Customs had previously held that the elfa® top tracks and hanging standards were properly classified under subheading 8302.41.60 as mountings suitable for buildings. The Trade Court placed an appeal on its reserve calendar pending resolution of another appeal involving identical merchandise, in which Judge Ridgway ultimately granted Container Store summary judgment. The government later abandoned an appeal. Judge Barnett reached a different conclusion in the present case. The Federal Circuit reversed. The elfa® system constitutes “unit furniture” because it is designed to be hung on a wall, is “fitted with other pieces to form a larger system,” and can be “assembled together in various ways to suit the consumer’s individual needs to hold various objects or articles.” Given that the tracks and standards are designed exclusively for the elfa® unit furniture system, they are properly classified as parts of unit furniture under subheading 9403.90.80.