Doctrine of Noscitur a Sociis

Doctrine of Noscitur a Sociis

What Does Noscitur a Sociis Mean ?

The doctrine of "Noscitur a Sociis" sets the meaning of a word by associating it with the terms accompanying it. See Indian Head, Inc. v. United States, 597 F.2d 266, 268 (CCPA 1979).

In Apple Computer, Inc. v. United States, 14 C.I.T. 77 (1990), the Court of International Trade construed heading 710 under the doctrine of noscitur a sociis.

According to this doctrine, the Court of International Trade noted that heading 710 contains terms such as compasses, dividers, ruling pens, etc. -items used to create designs.

The court thus interpreted "drafting and drawing machines" to cover only items used in the creation of designs.

The Apple plotter, in contrast, did not "assist in the creation of hand drawn designs," but rather served "as a printer for designs created by the designer on a computer." Apple Computer, 14 C.I.T. at 86.

The Sumitronics, Inc. v. United States, 19 C.I.T. 122 (1995) court used similar reasoning to reject classification of writing heads used in plotters as other parts of drawing machines under 710.80. See Sumitronics, Inc. v. United States, 19 C.I.T. at 124 ("Neither the Apple Computer plotter nor the CES plotter assist in the design or creation of the drawings themselves, rather, they merely assist in the recording and writing of what was created on a data processing machine.").