21 F.3d 1079 (Fed. Cir. 1994), 93-1466, Mita Copystar America v. United States

Docket Nº:93-1466.
Citation:21 F.3d 1079
Party Name:MITA COPYSTAR AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. The UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:April 11, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Page 1079

21 F.3d 1079 (Fed. Cir. 1994)

MITA COPYSTAR AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant,


The UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 93-1466.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

April 11, 1994

Page 1080

Steven P. Florsheim, Grunfeld, Desiderio, Libowitz & Silverman, New York City, argued for plaintiff-appellant.

John M. Peterson and Peter J. Allen, Neville, Peterson & Williams, New York City, were on the brief for amicus curiae, Xerox Corp.

Barbara M. Epstein, Commercial Litigation Branch, Dept. of Justice, New York City, argued for defendant-appellee. With her on the brief were Frank W. Hunger, Asst. Atty. Gen., David M. Cohen, Director and Joseph I. Liebman, Atty. in Charge, Intern. Trade Field Office. Also on the brief was Stephen Berke, Office of the Asst. Chief Counsel, Intern. Trade Litigation, U.S. Customs Service, of counsel.

Before MICHEL, CLEVENGER and SCHALL, Circuit Judges.

MICHEL, Circuit Judge.

Mita Copystar America (Mita) appeals the May 20, 1993 decision of the United States Court of International Trade, No. 90-05-00260, slip op. 93-76, 1993 WL 179285, granting the government's motion for summary judgment and denying Mita's cross-motion for summary judgment. The court held that the United States Customs Service (Customs) properly classified Mita's toners and developers as "Chemical preparations" under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), subheading 3707.90.30. Because no legal error has been shown, we affirm.


Mita imports toners and developers for use in its own photocopy machines. These toners and developers are packaged in retail units and designed for use in a specific type or brand of machine such that they are not interchangeable. The toner consists of two different resins, carbon black (or, pigments, in the case of red or blue toners), dye, and silica and/or aluminum oxide. The developers consist of a "carrier" in the form of a combination of various metal oxides, and a small amount of toner. The subject toners and developers are manufactured through an involved process whereby the ingredients of each are mixed together in precise proportions, processed and later pulverized to form particles of the required size.

Mita's imported toners and developers are part of a "two component" system. When used in a photocopy machine, the developer is placed in the "developing unit" of the machine and the toner is placed in the "toner reservoir." During operation, toner is automatically fed into the developing unit, where it is continuously mixed with the developer in a predetermined ratio.

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By contrast, a competing electrophotographic process, referred to as a "one component" system, utilizes a single multicomponent toner. In the one-component system, there is no mixing of toner with developer in the photocopy machine.

Customs classified the merchandise under HTSUS subheading 3707.90.30, encompassing "[c]hemical preparations for photographic uses," which carries a duty rate of 8.5 percent ad valorem. Mita claims that the proper classification is HTSUS subheading 3707.90.60, covering "[u]nmixed products for photographic uses, put up in measured portions or put up for retail sale in a form ready for use." Products in the latter category are assessed a duty rate of 1.5 percent ad valorem. 1 Mita filed timely protests with Customs, which were denied in December, 1989 and March, 1990. Mita then filed a complaint in the Court of International Trade. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

The trial court reviewed the Explanatory Notes to HTSUS section 3707.90, 2 which describe two categories, "(A) single substance" versus "(B) preparation obtained by mixing or compounding together two or more substances." Slip op. at 10. Noting that this distinction mirrored the division between the two HTSUS subheadings, the court concluded that "unmixed products" in subheading 3707.90.60 refers to single substances as described in category (A), and "chemical preparations" in subheading 3707.90.30 corresponds to...

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