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Mattel Inc. v. United States

Decided: February 13, 1991.

MATTEL, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE UNITED STATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from : U.S. Court of International Trade; Judge DiCarlo.

Archer, Clevenger, and Rader, Circuit Judges.

Rader

RADER, Circuit Judge

Mattel, Inc. (Mattel) appeals from the judgment of the United States Court of International Trade. Mattel, Inc. v. United States, 733 F. Supp. 1503 (Ct. Int'l Trade 1990). The trial court interpreted "unit" in Item 912.20 Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS)*fn1 to mean "retail package." This court reverses.

BACKGROUND

Mattel imported plastic toy figures and Barbie doll accessories*fn2 into the United States in retail packages. Each M.U.S.C.L.E.S. package included 4, 10, or 28 figures. The Barbie accessories came as part of larger toy sets. The parties stipulated that no single toy or accessory had a value of more than five cents.*fn3

Under the TSUS, the United States Customs Service (Customs) appraised and classified each separate toy and accessory. Customs classified the M.U.S.C.L.E.S. figures under either Item 737.40 as "toy figures of animate objects" or Item 737.49 as "toy figures of inanimate objects." The doll accessories fell under Item 737.95 as "toys not specially provided far." Each of these three Items carried a duty of 9.6% ad valorem.

Mattel protested the classification, arguing that Customs should classify these imports under Item 912.20 TSUS. Item 912.20 exempts from duty certain small toys valued at not over five cents per unit. Item 912.20 TSUS covers:

Articles provided for in parts 5D and 5E of schedule 7 (except balloons, marbles, dice and diecast vehicles), valued not over five cents per unit. . . .

(Emphasis added.)

Customs denied Mattel's challenge to its classification, determining that the value of each retail package of toys exceeded five cents. By viewing each package as the "unit," Customs denied Mattel classification under TSUS Item 912.20. Mattel appealed Customs's classification decision to the Court of International Trade.

In lieu of a trial, the parties presented stipulated facts. On the basis of these stipulations, the Court of International Trade affirmed Customs's classification of the toys and ruled that Customs correctly interpreted the word "unit" in Item 912.20. Mattel, 733 F. Supp. 1503.

Discussion

This court must determine the meaning of the term "unit" in Item 912.20 TSUS in order to ascertain its applicability to this case. Mattel argues that the term "unit" means each separate toy. The Government ...


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