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August 15, 2012
News - Fluke, we love you but yo…
about 6 years ago
Depending on the product, this is a real possibility -- that items sometimes may actually be liquidated via auction.
Just to add to my earlier comment: See http://nemo.cbp.gov/ot/bonded_warehouse.pdf page 57. 6.2(a) declares "Usually, dismantling or disassembly is considered manipulation [versus manufacturing]" which allow you to pass the 6.2(a)2 no-manufacturing rule. This could then trigger 6.2(a)3 to reclassify the dismantled meters as DMM bits (qualified for entry) and Multimeter shells (to be destroyed). At least, that's what I would try to convince the port director.
IANAL, but while researching importation details for our 3D printing supplies (at toybuilderlabs.com), I went through a lot of CBP docs.
IIRC, CBP entries held in bonded warehouses may be visited for modification prior to entry. You may potentially be able to modify the meters by removing the yellow shells and reclassifying the parts as multimeter innards (i.e., parts, not finished goods), possibly changing your tariff rate to offset the cost of such an action.
For some violations, if you have a suitable bond, you could actually enter the product and correct the violation - but I have a feeling this course will not be available in this case.
You might also be able to find a longer-term bonded warehouse in the US, or perhaps re-export to Mexico or Canda without entry into the US, and at least land the items where they can be trucked in later after appropriate steps are taken?
I am sympathetic to what has happened to you, as my parents had to deal with similar issues when they used to run an import business. The Customs Office takes their job quite seriously - while we might like to think it's trivial, counterfeit goods are quite serious - not just economic losses, but possibly life threatening in extreme cases. Obviously, not so extreme in this situation, but there is sufficient likeness of "trade dress" to at least cause some confusion. It may be that there was an even more explicit counterfeit-like clones of Fluke meters (by someone else) that prompted heightened awareness, and SparkFun caught the tail end of that vigilance?
(originally posted on Reddit)
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