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Initial Loading of Critical Software May Not Always Define Country of Origin

April 10, 2013

On April 3, 2013, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued two final determinations on the country of origin for complex electronic equipment which demonstrate the role that loading of U.S.-origin system software or firmware can play in identifying the country of origin under the substantial transformation test applicable to the Trade Agreements Act. In Country of Origin of Ultrasound Systems (a matter handled by Crowell & Moring), CBP concluded that the country of origin was the U.S. despite an initial system software load to the electronics module in China, when complex components from multiple countries subsequently were combined in the U.S. along with the download of the final system software, whereas in Country of Origin of HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 Color M551 Printer and Fax Machine, CBP concluded that loading U.S.-origin firmware along with a simple (7-minute) final assembly operation in Mexico did not substantially transform the complex LaserJet printer components and subassemblies manufactured in China, resulting in China being the country of origin.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Alan W. H. Gourley
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2561
Adelicia R. Cliffe
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2816