CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 952502 MBR
Mr. Donald Alford Weadon, Jr.
Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin
2101 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037-1526
RE: Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc.; Liquid Crystal
Display; LCD; ADP Output Display; 8531; 8471; 9013; HQ 952246;
HQ 951609; HQ 951288; HQ 952360; E.M. Chemicals v. United
Dear Mr. Weadon:
This is our reply to your letter of August 31, 1992, on behalf
of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC), requesting
classification of Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) for ADP output
displays, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
You state that the instant Toshiba ADP LCD Modules consist of
super-twisted nematic liquid crystal material in a dot matrix LCD
sandwich installed upon and connected to a printed circuit board
(PCB) populated with row and column LCD driver integrated circuits.
These circuits take the industry-standard display output signal
from an ADP device (such as a personal computer (PC), lap-top
computer, or a notebook computer) and electronically address
specific areas on the dot matrix of the LCD sandwich through a
multiplex drive time sharing sequence. When electronically
addressed and stimulated, the molecules in the normally transparent
liquid crystal medium within the LCD sandwich uniformly align and
become opaque, creating a visible dot.
The LCD sandwich/PCB assembly also incorporates a rectangular
frame (a "bezel") which is specifically designed to aid its
physical incorporation into the ADP device. Back-lighting is
either built-in to the ADP LCD Module or is offered as an option,
depending upon the ADP display color or type desired by the ADP
manufacturer. These ADP LCD Modules are powered by specifically
calibrated voltage/current inputs received through the device
output connector for the specific industry standard computer output
standard [e.g., Video Graphics Array ("VGA"), Color Graphics
Adapter ("CGA") or Enhanced Graphics Adapter ("EGA")].
Toshiba imports approximately seventeen different models of
ADP LCD Modules, all having a column configuration (Y axis) of 640
pixels and a row configuration (X axis) of 200 to 480 pixels. The
unit numbers are as follows: TLX-5152S-XXX, TLX-1751A-XXX, TLX-
1554-XXX, TLX-1832S-XXX, TLX-1702S-XXX, TLX-1551A-XXX, TLX-8052S-
XXX, TLX-1601-XXX, TLX-1841-XXX, TLX-1642S-XXX, TLX-1722S-XXX, TLX-
1181-XXX, TLX-1332A-XXX, TLX-1771-XXX, TLX-932-XXX, TLX-561-XXX,
TLX-562-XXX, TLX-1342-XXX, TLX-1341-XXX.
Are the instant LCD ADP output modules classified under
heading 8531, HTSUS, which provides for electric sound or visual
signaling apparatus, or under heading 8471, HTSUS, which provides
for ADP output devices, or under heading 9013, HTSUS, which
provides for liquid crystal devices, under the HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS
govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1
states, in pertinent part:
...classification shall be determined according to the terms
of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...
Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are prima facie classifiable
under the following subheadings:
8531 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example,
bells, sirens, indicator panels...
8531.20.00 Indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal
devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
9013 Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for
more specifically in other headings
9013.80.60 Other devices, appliances and instruments: Other
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
8471 Automatic data processing machines and units thereof
8471.92.80 Other: Input or output units...: Other: Other: Units
suitable for physical incorporation into automatic
data processing machines or units thereof
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Heading 8531, HTSUS, provides for electric sound or visual
signaling apparatus. Therefore, to be classifiable in this
heading, the apparatus must be designed for "signaling."
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes (ENs) to heading 8531, HTSUS, page 1381, are
fairly descriptive and restrictive as to the types of "signaling"
indicator panels and the like must perform in order to be
classifiable in that provision. It states: "[t]hese are used
(e.g., in offices, hotels and factories) for calling personnel,
indicating where a certain person or service is required,
indicating whether a room is free or not. They include:
(1) Room indicators. These are large panels with numbers
corresponding to a number of rooms...
(2) Number indicators. The signals appear as illuminated
figures on the face of a small box; in some apparatus of
this kind the calling mechanism is operated by the dial
of a telephone. Also clock type indicators in which the
numbers are indicated by a hand moving round a dial.
(3) Office indicators, for example, those used to indicate
whether the occupant of a particular office is free or
(4) Lift indicators. These indicate, on an illuminated
board, where the lift is and whether it is going up or
Therefore, only those LCDs which are limited by design and
function to that of "signaling," are classifiable in heading 8531,
E.M. Chemicals v. United States, Appeal No. 90-1141, Cust.
Bul. Vol. 24, No. 51, (1990), 13 CIT 849, 728 F. Supp. 723 (1989),
held that under the TSUS, liquid crystals were classifiable under
item 685.70 (the predecessor provision to heading 8531, HTSUS).
However, there has been a significant change in the relevant tariff
provisions under the HTSUS. In fact, heading 9013, HTSUS, which
provides for LCDs specifically, is a new provision under the HTSUS.
Furthermore, LCDs have been technologically developed for a myriad
of uses, many of which cannot be said to be for "signaling
Due to the specific ADP design and principal use of these
Toshiba LCD modules for ADP output, they cannot be classified under
heading 8531, which provides for "signalling apparatus." See HQ
951288, dated July 7, 1992, for a protest decision regarding Epson
Automatic Data Processing machine LCD flat panel displays
(laptop and notebook computer displays) typically exhibit the
following characteristics: pixel configuration (640 X 480), dot
pitch (.27 to .30mm), thin profile, light weight, liquid crystal
material mix (150 to 200 milliseconds response time signal to
signal), and low power consumption (5V). Based on these
parameters, the instant Toshiba ADP display subassemblies (LCD
modules) are a complete ADP flat panel display, missing only the
exterior housing and/or back-lighting. Therefore, pursuant to GRI
2(a), these models have the essential character of finished ADP
displays, classifiable under subheading 8471.92.30, HTSUS, which
provides for ADP output display units without cathode-ray tube
(CRT), having a visual display diagonal not exceeding 30.5 cm. See
HQ 951609, dated October 20, 1992, for a decision regarding ADP LCD
glass sandwiches, which were not classifiable as unfinished ADP
output units because they lacked the essential character of the
finished display. For other rulings regarding LCDs, see HQ 952246,
dated November 10, 1992, HQ 951868, dated October 31, 1992, HQ
952360, dated October 15, 1992, and HQ 951288, dated July 7, 1992.
Section XVI, Legal Note 1(m) states that: "[t]his section does
not cover: [a]rticles of chapter 90." Heading 9013, HTSUS,
provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles
provided for more specifically in other headings." Therefore,
since the Toshiba ADP LCD Modules are provided for more
specifically in another heading, they are not to be classifiable
in heading 9013, HTSUS.
Unless a principal use for signalling (heading 8531, HTSUS)
or as an ADP output unit (heading 8471, HTSUS) can be established
satisfactorily either by design limitation or other reliable means,
LCD displays are classifiable in subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS,
which provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting
articles provided for more specifically in other headings: [o]ther
devices, appliances and instruments: [o]ther."
The Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc., liquid
crystal display modules for ADP output displays are classifiable
in subheading 8471.92.30, HTSUS, which provides for: "[a]utomatic
data processing machines and units thereof: [o]ther: [i]nput or
units, whether or not entered with the rest of a system and whether
or not containing storage units in the same housing: [o]ther:
[d]isplay units: [w]ithout cathode-ray tube (CRT), having a visual
display diagonal not exceeding 30.5 cm." The rate of duty is Free.
John Durant, Director