The letter and number code 337-TA-588 might sound pretty harmless, but it has recently proved to be down-right lethal. If you are a yellow multi-meter that is.
337-TA-588 is a US International Trade Commission Exclusion Order, that recently his the US company Sparkfun smack in the face.
It turns out that their imported multi-meters, which have a dark-coloured body and a yellow border, were in violation of a trademark awarded to the US company Fluke back in 2003.
OK, according to Sparkfun, at least, the multi-meters have a yellowish-orange border, but it’s still too close for comfort for the US Customs authorities, who are, it should be added, just following the rules – stupid as they may seem in this case.
“So we really only have two options, ship them back or have them destroyed. Having them destroyed costs $150 per hour with no indication of how much time it will take to destroy 2,000 units. Returning them has been ruled out by the manufacturer in China because the import taxes in China are so steep (yay free trade) that bringing them back into the country to have them modified would be more expensive than paying for the return shipping and taxes. Between bad and worse, we have to have them destroyed. Sorry Earth,” Sparkfun wrote about the whole situation.