Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Prior Probability, The Snuggies Case:
Have you seen those cheesy infomercials for Snuggies, those wearable fleece coverings–blankets with sleeves? Now, as a matter of tax law, is a Snuggie more like a blanket or more like a garment? (Blankets are subject to a lower import tax than articles of clothing are.) The United States Court of International Trade recently decided this close question, ruling that Snuggies are blankets for import tax purposes [citations omitted]:
Parties do not dispute that specifications, purchase orders, and invoices describe the Snuggie® as a blanket, and Allstar has trademarked "Snuggie®" to use on blankets and throws. The Snuggie® is marketed as a blanket, albeit one with sleeves. Retail packaging depicts people wearing the Snuggie® 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 television commercial additionally shows a woman wearing a Snuggie® in place of a blanket that failed to sufficiently cover her. All of the above indicates that the Snuggie® is designed, used, and functions as a blanket, and is regarded in commerce and described in sales and marketing literature as a blanket.
The court further finds that the sleeves are incidental to the Snuggie®'s use as a blanket; the sleeves are not so substantial as to transform the Snuggie® into something other than a blanket. The undisputed facts show that the Snuggie® "preserve[s]" the "essential characteristic[s]" of a blanket—a large piece of fabric providing a warm covering. The sleeves support, rather than detract from, the Snuggie®'s "primary design and use" as a blanket because they ostensibly enable 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. The court thus concludes that the Snuggie® is correctly classified as a "blanket."
(Hat Tip: Enrique Guerra.)