Apple Inc. v. United States, No. 19-1869 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
U.S. Customs and Border Protection classified Apple’s iPad 2 Smart Cover model number MC939LL/A, under Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) Subheading 6307.90.98, covering “Other made up articles, including dress patterns: Other” at a duty rate of 7 percent. Apple argued that the Smart Cover is properly classified under HTSUS Subheading 8473.30.51, covering “Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of headings 8469 to 8472: Parts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471: Other,” duty-free.
The government argued that Apple’s subject merchandise is properly classified under HTSUS Subheading 3926.90.99, covering “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: Other,” at a duty rate of 5.3 percent ad valorem. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Trade Court’s ruling in favor of the government. Apple’s Smart Cover is composed of various materials including “microfiber lining” and a “plastic outer layer” and otherwise unclassifiable composite goods must be “classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character. The Smart Cover’s plastic outer layer provides its essential character.