Gerson Co. v. United States, No. 18-1011 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Gerson imports finished decorative candle and tea light lamps made of plastic and/or wax, designed to resemble ordinary candles, but using battery-operated LEDs, and serving both decorative and illuminative functions. Customs liquidated the merchandise under HTSUS subheading 9405.40.80, which imposes a duty rate of 3.9%, and reads: Lamps and lighting fittings including searchlights and spotlights and parts thereof, not elsewhere specified or included; illuminated signs, illuminated nameplates and the like, having a permanently fixed light source, and parts thereof not elsewhere specified or included: 40 Other electric lamps and lighting fittings. Gerson argued that it should have been classified under subheading 8543.70.70, which imposes a rate of 2%, and reads: Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof: 70 Other machines and apparatus: 70 Electric luminescent lamps. The Federal Circuit affirmed judgment in favor of the government. Gerson’s reading would impermissibly expand the scope of heading 8543, unduly narrow the scope of heading 9405, and be inconsistent with the World Customs Organization’s Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes, which suggest that chapter 94 is reserved for finished household lamps like Gerson’s candles, while chapter 85 is reserved for unfinished lamps used in conjunction with other electrical devices.