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Classification Of Engineered Multi-Layer
Hardwood Flooring Challenged In
The Court Of International Trade

April 9, 2008
There is currently a court action pending in the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) that is challenging U.S. Customs’ position that certain engineered multi-layered hardwood flooring is classifiable under heading 4412 as “plywood” at the duty rate of 8%.  The current lawsuit contends that this type of flooring is duty free and classifiable as other veneered panels and similar laminated wood under subheading 4412.29.

The engineered flooring products in issue are in plank or strip form, have a protective coating, and are ready for installation as flooring at the time of importation.  Customs currently classifies these products as “plywood” at the duty rate of 8% under various subheadings of heading 4412, based upon a decision issued four years ago by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which held that engineered wood flooring falls within the common meaning of the tariff term “plywood.” 

During the last two years, U.S. Customs has been very active in rate advancing many similar engineered flooring products to the higher plywood duty rate.  The goal of the present litigation is to exclude these types of flooring products from the plywood classification based upon an industry definition of the term “plywood,’” which overrides the definition of plywood as defined by the CAFC.   

Pending the outcome of the current litigation, importers of engineered wood flooring should take steps to protect their rights to receive refunds in the event that there is a favorable outcome to this litigation.  Specifically, protests need to be filed on the applicable entries, and if denied, court actions need to be filed to keep the protests alive. 

If you have any questions on the issues raised in this newsletter, please contact Stephen Spraitzar at (415) 288-0427 or at

Stephen Spraitzar is an attorney with the Law Offices of George R. Tuttle in San Francisco. 

The information in this article is general in nature, and is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship with respect to any event or occurrence, and may not be considered as such.

Copyright 2008 by Tuttle Law Offices.

All rights reserved. Information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by our offices or by others, we do not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and are not responsible for any errors, omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of such information.

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