MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734906 KR
Mr. Javier F. Cabello Canales, CHB
Cabello-Canales World Wide
P.O. Box 748
Laredo, TX 78042-0748
RE: Country of origin marking of broom handle and broom head; after attachment;
combining; substantial transformation.
Dear Mr. Javier F. Cabello Canales, CHB:
This is in response to your letter dated November 13, 1992, on behalf of
your client, Rubbermaid Commercial Products Inc., requesting a ruling on the
country of origin marking requirements for broom heads imported from Mexico and
broom handles imported from Italy which are to be combined in the U.S. A sample
of the packaging to be placed over the head of the assembled broom was included
with your submission. We regret the delay in responding.
Rubbermaid wishes to import blended corn/rattan broom heads from Mexico.
The broom heads will be imported in boxes of 25 heads. The box will be marked
"PRODUCT OF MEXICO". Rubbermaid will also import metal broom handles from Italy.
The box containing the bulk handles will be marked "PRODUCT OF ITALY". The broom
handle and the broom head will be assembled in the U.S.
Rubbermaid wishes to attach a plastic sleeve to the broom head will marked
on one side in large print:
Kitchen Corn Broom
keeps bristles secure
In smaller print below this the plastic sleeve states:
Wooster, OH 44691-6000
Assembled in U.S.A.
from Mexican and
Whether the handles are substantially transformed when they are combined
with the broom heads in the United States in the manner described above.
Whether the assembled broom may be marked without specifically identifying
the country of origin of the individual pieces, the handle and the head.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304),
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 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 and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.35,
Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.35), provides that the manufacturer or processor
in the U.S. who converts or combines the imported article into a different
article having a new name, character or use will be considered the ultimate
purchaser of the imported article within the contemplation of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and
the article shall be excepted from marking. The outermost containers of the
imported articles shall be marked.
A substantial transformation occurs when an article loses its identity and
becomes a new article having a new name, character or use. United States v.
Gibson-Thomsen Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 at 270 (1940); National Juice Products
Association v. United States, 628 F. Supp. 978, 10 CIT 48 (CIT 1986); Koru North
America v. United States, 701 F. Supp. 229, 12 CIT 1120, (CIT 1988). Two court
cases have considered whether imported parts combined in the U.S. with domestic
parts were substantially transformed for country of origin marking purposes. In
the first case, Gibson-Thomsen, the court held that imported wood brush block and
toothbrush handles which had bristles inserted into them in the U.S. lost their
identity as such and became new articles having a new name, character and use.
The second case involved imported shoe uppers which were combined with domestic
soles in the U.S. The imported uppers were held in Uniroyal, Inc. v. United
States, 542 F. Supp. 1026, 3 CIT 220 (CIT 1982), to be the "essence of the
completed shoe" and therefore, not substantially transformed.
In this situation, the broom handle and broom head are not substantially
transformed after importation into the U.S. In HQ 733804 (November 9, 1990),
Customs ruled that attaching a U.S. handle to an imported broom head does not
substantially transform the imported broom head. Instead, the broom must be
marked with the country of origin of the "essential element of the finished
article." This was true "whether it is assembled with a foreign or U.S.-made
handle." See HQ 732896 (April 5, 1990) (holding that a mop handle must be
separately marked from the mop head because they did "not lose their separate
identity" because the mop head is removable). But see HQ 734246 (October 21,
1991) (holding that the country of origin of a hammer is determined by where the
head is made, and not the handle); HQ 723857 (December 1, 1988).
Customs policy is that in most circumstances, it is not acceptable for
purposes of 19 U.S.C. 1304 to mark an article with an indeterminate marking, such
as the legend "Product of or ". See C.S.D. 89-111; see also HQ 734505
(August 27, 1992).
Based on our consideration of these factors, we conclude that the broom
head and broom handle are not substantially transformed in the U.S. as a result
of the assembly operation performed in the U.S. Further, since each piece is
imported and neither loses its identity after they are attached we find that the
country of origin of both the head and the handle must be indicated on the
plastic sleeve, such as: "Assembled in the U.S., Handle from Italy, Head from
Mexico". See HQ 732896 (April 5, 1990).
The broom head and the broom handle are not substantially transformed in
the U.S. by being assembled together in the U.S. as described supra. Both the
broom head and the broom handle retain their individual identity after assembly,
and therefore the country of origin of both must be specifically indicated by
stating "Handle from Italy, Head from Mexico", or words of similar meaning.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division