Crowell & Moring represented Irwin Tools in a dispute over whether the company should have to pay increased duties on its Vise Grip® brand imported hand tools. The International Trade Group had previously won two rounds of summary judgment briefing and the government’s motion for reconsideration at the U.S. Court of International Trade. The government then appealed their loss to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

On April 9, 2019, the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. Court of International Trade’s decision for Appellee Irwin Tools on the challenged hand tool products and determined that they were pliers and not wrenches. The precedential decision may be found here. The challenged hand tool products were: large jaw, curved jaw, long nose with wire cutter, curved jaw with wire cutter, and straight jaw.

The three judge panel rejected U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) proposed historical classification, which had been used by the agency for more than 30 years, classifying the products as wrenches dutiable at 9% ad valorem. Instead, it agreed with Irwin that the Vise Grip® products were properly classified as pliers, dutiable at 12 cents/dozen + 5.5% ad valorem. The case was argued by Frances Hadfield.

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