MAR-2 RR:CR:SM 561660 KSG
26-27 Oxendon Street
RE: Country of origin marking of imported hair care products; 19 CFR 134.46
Dear Ms. Franklin:
This is in response to your letter of February 29, 2000, requesting a binding ruling on the country of origin marking of imported hair care products. You submitted copies of sample labels for our examination.
The imported merchandise in this case consists of shampoos and conditioners. The front label on these products includes the phrase “Chinese Herbal Therapy.” There are also references on the back label to the phrase "Chinese herbal medicine." The product is made in England. The country of origin marking appears on the back label along with an address in England.
Whether the proposed marking of the imported hair care products satisfies the country of origin marking requirements set forth in 19 U.S.C. 1304.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1304), as amended, provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304.
Section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46), as revised by T.D. 97-72, dated August 20, 1997, provides:
In any case in which the words “United States,” or “American,” the letters “U.S.A.,” any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or location in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced appear on an imported article or its container, and those words, letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin of the article, there shall appear legibly and permanently in close proximity to such words, letters or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by “Made in,” “Product of,” or other words of similar meaning.
Section 134.46 provides that its special marking requirements are triggered only when the non-origin reference may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin of the article. Customs has ruled that in order to satisfy the “close proximity” requirement, the country of origin marking must appear on the same sides(s) or surface(s) in which the name of the locality other than the country of origin appears. See HRL 708994, dated April 24, 1978.
Customs has considered in a series of ruling letters the question of whether a non-origin reference to a location is potentially misleading or deceptive for the ultimate purchaser as to the origin of the imported good. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HRL”) 561285, dated March 11, 1999, Customs concluded that jeans bearing the marking “London Jeans” that were made in Canada did not trigger the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46 because the word “London” was used as a decoration and would not reasonably be construed to indicate the origin of the article. Similarly, in HRL 559267, dated October 20, 1995, Customs examined imported coffee canisters bearing the phrase “By Appointment to His Majesty The King of Sweden.” The coffee canisters were made in Taiwan. Customs stated that the above phrase refers to the coffee and not the canister and the ultimate purchaser would not confuse the reference to the King of Sweden as information concerning the origin of the canister. Customs held that the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46 were not triggered.
This case is similar to the two cases discussed above. The references to Chinese herbal therapy and Chinese herbal medicine are not references to the origin of the hair care products but rather to a concept regarding non-Western homeopathic medicines and cures. We do not believe that these references would confuse the ultimate purchaser as to the origin of the hair care products. Therefore, we find that the special requirements of 19 CFR 134.46 are not triggered in this case. Thus, the country of origin marking on the back label satisfies the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.
The references to Chinese herbal therapy and Chinese herbal medicine on the shampoo and conditioner product labels do not trigger the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46. The country of origin marking on the back label of the imported hair care products satisfies the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division