The International Trade Practice Center on Bloomberg Law® provides in one comprehensive, time-saving resource.
By Brian Flood
Snuggies, the sleeved fleece coverings, should be classified as blankets for tariff purposes, not like robes or priestly vestments, a federal trade court ruled Feb. 10 ( Allstar Mktg. Grp., LLC v. United States , Ct. Int’l Trade, 13-00395, 2/10/17 ).
The court rejected the Justice Department’s argument that Snuggies are apparel and so should be subject to higher duties than blankets. The judge found it important that Snuggies open in the back and don’t have closures.
Snuggies are polyester fleece knits with sleeves that the manufacturer says keeps users warm while letting them use their hands freely. Beginning in late 2008, the product, and its infomercials, became a pop culture phenomenon, and the Snuggie was featured on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Oprah, Ellen and The Today Show.
Judge Mark Barnett of the Court of International Trade held that Customs and Border Protection was wrong to classify Snuggies as garments. The judge noted in his opinion that the product is marketed as a blanket, rather than as clothing. For example, the packaging describes the Snuggie as “The Blanket With Sleeves!,” he said, and depicts consumers “in the types of situations one might use a blanket; for example, while seated or reclining on a couch or bed, or outside cheering a sports team.”
The addition of sleeves was not enough to turn the Snuggie into clothing, Barnett said. They simply allow the Snuggie “to remain in place and keep the user warm while allowing the user to engage in certain activities requiring the use of their hands,” he said.
The judge rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to compare the Snuggie to priestly vestments or scholastic robes, which also have wide-armed sleeves and flow loosely around the body. Barnett said that unlike robes, the Snuggie opens in the back, and unlike ecclesiastical garments, it don’t have closures.
The ruling means that instead of paying 14.9 percent duties when bringing Snuggies into the U.S., importers will only have to pay 8.5 percent duties.
Representatives from Allstar Marketing Group, which imports and sells the Snuggie, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Joseph M. Spraragen, Robert B. Silverman and Frank J. Desiderio of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP, New York, represented plaintiff Allstar Marketing Group.
Hardeep K. Josan of the Justice Department’s Civil Division argued for defendant U.S.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Flood in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org
The court's opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/ALLSTAR_MARKETING_GROUP_LLC_Plaintiff_v_UNITED_STATES_Defendant_N.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)