CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950466 HP

Mr. Marty Langtry
Castelazo & Associates
5420 West 104th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90045

RE: Elastic cord lace system for athletic shoes with plastic clips and de minimus sticker.

Dear Mr. Langtry:

This is in reply to your letter of September 5, 1991. That letter concerned the tariff classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of a shoe lace system, produced in Taiwan. Please reference your client Stonewall Trading (a.k.a. Angel-etts).


The merchandise at issue consists of an elastic cord lace system for athletic shoes, item no. LS-1. The article is used as a replacement for regular shoe laces to secure athletic shoes about the foot. It consists of two stretch lace cords composed of rubber strips covered by braided man-made fiber, and secured at either end by a piece of plastic, two round plastic clips covered by rubber semi-basketballs, and a round flat plastic sticker, measuring approximately 4" in diameter. Printed on the words "Do It With NRG". The product packaging also has printed upon it "NRG".


Whether the lace system is considered a set put up for retail sale under the HTSUSA?

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Heading 6307, HTSUSA, normally provides for shoe laces. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While not legally binding, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the Explanatory Notes when interpreting the HTSUSA. The EN to this heading states, however, that "(15) ... laces consisting of spun yarns or cords with fitted ends are excluded (heading 56.09).

The appropriate heading for the laces is 5609, HTSUSA. The plastic clips are provided for in heading 3926, HTSUSA. The plastic sticker is covered by heading 3919, HTSUSA. The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) to the HTSUSA govern the class- ification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part, that:

... classification shall be determined ac- cording to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes ...

Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order.

GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When by application of Rule 2(b) [goods of more than one material or substance] or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

* * *

(b) ... goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) [which requires that goods be classified, if possi- ble, under the more specific of the competing provisions], shall be classified as if they consisted of ... component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

Explanatory Note (X) to GRI 3 provides, in pertinent part:

For the purposes of [GRI 3(b)], the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall be taken to mean goods which:

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(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings. * * *;

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific ac- tivity; and

(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking ....

It is clear that the laces and plastic clips meet the requirements for classification as a set put up for retail sale. You have argued, however, that the addition of the plastic sticker "precludes the [entire] package from being classified as [a set]."

We agree in part. The laces and clips are packaged together to meet a particular need; specifically:

instantly transforming the athletic shoes into slip-ons providing perfect support by moving when the wearer moves keeping laces tied permanently via unique locking system.

The sticker, if not considered de minimus, unquestionably plays no part in meeting this need.

Under the de minimus rule, a component which is merely an incidental or immaterial element of an entire article, does not enhance its value, and has no commercial purpose, is disregarded for classification purposes. Tuscany Fabrics, Inc. v. United States, 65 Cust. Ct. 182, 317 F. Supp. 741 (1970), aff'd, 59 C.C.P.A. 77, C.A.D. 1043, 454 F.2d 1188 (1972), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 845, 34 L.Ed 2d 85, 93 S.Ct 47 (1972). Examining the specific commercial purposes toward which the laces and clips are packaged together a set, supra, it is clear that the addition of the sticker (1) does not enhance the value of the set, (2) is merely incidental to the set, and (3) has no viable commercial purpose legitimately connected to the set. The sticker is considered de minimus; therefore, it is ignored when determining that the entire package is a set for retail sale.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 5609.00.4000, HTSUSA, as articles of yarn, strip or the like of heading 5404 or 5405, twine, cordage, rope or cables, not elsewhere specified or included, other. The applicable rate of duty is 7.8 percent ad valorem.

Page 4 of 4 A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. 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