Legal question of the day: Is a Snuggie a blanket?

The uniform for couch potatoes everywhere is wrapped in a fuzzy legal question: Is a Snuggie a blanket or an article of clothing? It’s a query that convinced Snuggie-maker Allstar Marketing Group to take the U.S. government to court, The Washington Post reported.

The Chinese-made Snuggie is classified as “pullover apparel,” which is important for tariffs. The tariff on imported blankets is 8.5 percent in the U.S., while the tariff on pullover apparel is 14.9 percent.

(Flickr / Elisa Self / “Lily approves of snuggie use” https://flic.kr/p/975ziv / CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ / cropped and resized)

(Flickr / Elisa Self / “Lily approves of snuggie use”  / CC BY 2.0  / cropped and resized)

Allstar Marketing argued before the United States Court of International Trade that the Snuggie should be considered a blanket. Last month, the judge sided with Allstar, determining that young Obi Wan Kenobi‘s garb of choice is a blanket because it doesn’t close in the back.

This case highlights steps companies take to work around tariffs in a time when President Donald Trump wants stricter tariffs to encourage local manufacturing, an effort that has engaged Maryland CEOs Kevin Plank and Marillyn Hewson.

However, experts say trade barriers may encourage companies to engage in lobbying efforts for special treatment.

“Companies will employ tariff engineers to make sure products come in at a lower tariff rate, and you can’t tell me there is not a better use for their talent,” Bryan Riley, a senior policy analyst and free trade advocate at the Heritage Foundation, told The Post.

In the past, companies have gotten creative to work around tariff classifications. For example, Halloween costumes that use Velcro instead of a zipper or button can be classified as “festive articles,” which have lower tariffs than clothing, Planet Money reported.

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