Okay, this is the kind of stuff that makes me love being a lawyer. Some people practice for the money; some do it for the prestige; some do it because they honestly are doing good things, great things even, that are so, so necessary for our system of justice. But I’m shallow compared to them, and I admit it. I just love the clever argument, and I love being the one to make it. And that’s why I would have given up my Spiderman PJs to be the lawyer for Toy Biz, Inc., who came up with this gem. And the connection to the superhero comics of my youth is just an added bonus.
It seems there’s a distinction between “toys” and “dolls” when it comes to import duties. Let’s face it. All these things are manufactured in China and shipped into the U.S.A. When Toy Biz moved to import a bunch of “action figures” from the Marvel Comics universe—specifically, the X-Men, Spiderman, and the Fantastic Four—it was told that they’d be subject to the 12% ad valorem import tax rate on “dolls.” This was as opposed to the 6.8% ad valorem duty on “toys.” How did Toy Biz answer?
It argued that the “action figures” at issue “are properly classifiable as ‘Toys representing animals or other non-human creatures (for example, robots and monsters) and parts and accessories thereof: Other.’” In other words, they said the X-Men aren’t human. Whatever your position on Mutant Rights, that argument is terrific. And it won.
Of course, this leaves me thinking: what is the fate of Iron Man (aka Tony Stark)? It’s only the suit that makes him “super,” so does the Tony Stark (Iron Man suit) version get treated differently from the Tony Stark (Armani suit) version? And really, he’s the same guy, either way. So what happens?
Incidentally, if anyone wants to contact me about this . . . really, for whatever reason . . . my information is on this site. Just sayin’.