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Screws Are Defined By Their Anchor, Gov’t Tells Fed. Circ.

September 5, 2017

Law360
By Bryan Koenig

A U.S. Court of International Trade judge mistakenly halved a Canadian fastener company’s import tariffs because it didn’t focus on what the screws anchor into to define them, the federal government told a Federal Circuit panel in oral arguments on Tuesday.

A U.S. Department of Justice attorney argued that GRK Canada Ltd. must face a 12.5 percent ad valorem duty rate instead of the 6.2 percent rate it won at the lower court after a previous appeal to the Federal Circuit, because U.S. Customs and Border Protection properly deemed the screws to be “other wood screws” instead of “self-tapping screws” subject to the lower tariffs, based on their “anchor material.”

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GRK attorney Craig E. Ziegler argued on Tuesday, however, that the lower court “got it exactly right.”

The Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP attorney argued that the screws at issue here are able to penetrate much harder material than wood, such as metal and plastic, meaning they aren’t wood screws and shouldn’t be classified and tariffed as such. Where the screws anchor, he said, is “immaterial” because they still have “to connect two different things.”

“The anchoring is not supported anywhere” that the court has to look, Ziegler said. The screws were properly defined by the lower court by their real-world use, he argued, able to penetrate denser material, an ability that makes them self-tapping.

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