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Casio, Inc. v. U.S.

Decided: January 16, 1996.

CASIO, INC., PLAINTIFF/CROSS-APPELLANT,
v.
THE UNITED STATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appealed from: U.S. Court of International Trade Judge Musgrave United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Before Archer, Chief Judge, Michel and Schall, Circuit Judges.

Michel

Michel, Circuit Judge.

The United States appeals the decision of the United States Court of International Trade, No. 89-07-00385, reclassifying 5 of 38 electronic musical synthesizer models, imported by Casio, Inc. ("Casio"), as "electrical articles which produce sound," Tariff Schedules of the United States ("TSUS")*fn1 688.34, as opposed to their original classification as "electronic musical instruments," TSUS 725.47. Casio cross-appeals the court's determination that the remaining models of imported electronic musical synthesizers were properly classified as "electronic musical instruments." We affirm.

I. Background

Casio imports into the United States electronic musical synthesizers.*fn2 All of the imported synthesizer models were classified by the Customs Service, upon entry into the United States, as "Electronic musical instruments: Other," TSUS 725.47, with a duty rate of 6.8% ad valorem.

Casio timely challenged the classification by filing suit in the United States Court of International Trade. Casio argued that these synthesizers were improperly classified as electronic musical instruments and should instead have been classified under TSUS 688.34 as "Electrical articles and electrical parts of articles, not specifically provided for: Electrical articles using pre-programmed digital integrated circuits to produce sound," dutiable at the rate of 3.9% ad valorem.

Each of the synthesizers at issue in this case includes at least one of the following features.

1.

ROM Pack - computer chip driven device containing ROM (read only memory) programmed to play a melody on the keyboard or to guide in a teaching function (e.g., to light indicator lights associated with a specific key).

2. Sampling - the ability to capture a sound (e.g., a dog bark) and then play it back at different pitches (e.g., "Jingle Bells" as done by barking dogs).

3. Sequencer - a device that remembers a sequence of key depressions, including note, duration, and sometimes pressure, and then plays it back. A multiple track sequencer allows additional sounds to be added on top of a previously recorded sequence. Using this function, a musician can record a background beat and additional musical phrases to the sequencer, and then play the melody on top.

4. Auto-rhythm - generates a rhythm selected from a number of pre-programmed rhythms (e.g., country, reggae, samba, waltz, etc.). The musician can then play a melody over the generated rhythm.

5. Auto-accompaniment - automatically generates an accompaniment of "fill-in" notes for the keys depressed on ...


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