How is "Net Weight" Defined under Global Trade Regulations?
We are looking for a precise definition of a product "Net Weight" for compliance to Global Trade Regulations. For example, for an MP3 player, would the product net weight include all items that we expect the consumer to retain (i.e., the MP3 player, accessories, headphones, computer cable, software CD, and operating manual)? Retail packaging that is expected to be discarded would not be included.
Generally, global regulations—such as United Nations Conventions and trade packs—do not deal with labeling requirements. For example, while "net weight" is mentioned in Article 56 of the United Nations Convention of Contract for the International Sales of Goods, it is in the context of the price of goods based on weight, not the definition of net weight. Specifically, if a contract does not specify whether net or gross weight should be used to determine the cost of goods being sold based on weight, the cost should be determined by the net weight.
The legal requirements regarding net content and package labeling for a specific product would depend on the type of product and where it is being sold. For example, in the U.S., electronics and most other non-food consumer packaged products are subject to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). The FPLA specifies that except for items delivered under pressure, the "statement of net quantity of contents shall accurately reveal the quantity of the commodity in the container exclusive of wrappers and other material packed therewith." (16 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) 500.25(a). In addition, packaged goods sold in the U.S. also fall under the jurisdiction of state and local weights and measures agencies which can adopt their own legal requirements for packaged goods. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 133, Checking the Net Contents of Packaged Goods, was prepared as a procedural guide for compliance testing of net content statements on packaged goods. For assistance on particular items, you should consult with qualified counsel.