CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 952700 SK

Barb Ruskamp
Charles M. Schayer & Co.
3839 Newport Street
Denver, CO 80207

RE: Classification of unfinished computer data storage disc organizers; cases; 4202 v. Ch. 39; not for "packing" or "conveying"; not household article; similar to containers enumerated in 4202, HTSUSA; EN(c) to 4202; NYRL 870281 (1/23/92); NYRL 868933 (12/18/91); NYRL 868901 (12/2/91); 4202.90.9020, HTSUSA.

Dear Ms. Ruskamp:

This is in response to your inquiry of July 31, 1992, on behalf of Case Logic, Inc., requesting a binding tariff classification ruling for several styles of computer data storage disc organizers. Unfinished samples were submitted to this office for examination and will be returned to you under separate cover.


The submitted samples are computer data storage disc organizers used to protect, store, display and transport computer discs.

Unfinished samples of models CDW-100, DK-20 and DK-40 have been submitted. Each item is comprised of two layers of fabric; the outer layer is of a woven nylon fabric and the inner layer is a textile fabric laminated on one side with foam plastic. Inserted between the two layers is a plastic sheet and foam plastic. The articles feature a sheath-like pocket on each inside cover. The interior spine of each is reinforced with an imitation leather material. The samples close by means of a nylon zipper which encompasses three sides of the cover. The articles measure:

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* Model CDW-100 - 11.5 inches by 11.5 inches with a 2.5 inch spine. The zipper edges measure .75 inches in width;

* Model DK-20 - 10 inches by 5 inches with a 1.5 inch spine. The zipper edges measure .75 inches in width;

* Model DK-40 - 10 inches by 9 inches with a 2 inch spine. The zipper edges measure .75 inches in width.

The items are imported in an unfinished state. After importation, each will have an insert of clear plastic pages ("wings") placed in the sheaths. Each set of wings are bound and covered by heavy gauge plastic. The plastic tabs of the cover are inserted into the left and right sheaths and this forms the finished compact disc organizer. The DK-20 and DK-40 models are designed to contain 40 discs and the CDW-100 has capacity for 100.


Whether the computer data storage disc organizers at issue are classifiable as containers and cases similar to those enumerated in heading 4202, HTSUSA, or as articles of plastic within Chapter 39, HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Chapter 39 of the HTSUSA provides for plastics and articles thereof. Although the outer surfaces of the articles at issue are not of plastic, the cases are nevertheless potentially classifiable as plastic articles of Chapter 39 based on the fact that much of the structural integrity of these items, as well as the value imparted, is provided by the plastic components. Chapter Note 2(h), at page 549, states that Chapter 39 does not provide for containers of heading 4202, HTSUSA. Accordingly, our first determination is whether the goods at issue are classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUSA, and thereby precluded from classification under Chapter 39.

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Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, "trunks, suit-cases, vanity-cases, executive cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers." As computer data storage discs are not expressly provided for in this provision, our next inquiry is whether the subject merchandise is similar to these enumerated containers and whether classification of computer data storage discs is in any way precluded from classification in heading 4202, HTSUSA, by applicable chapter or explanatory notes.

Explanatory Note (c) to heading 4202, HTSUSA, page 613, states that articles which "may have the character of containers, [but] are not similar to those enumerated in the heading," are not covered by this provision. This office is of the opinion that several of the exemplars listed are indeed similar to the subject merchandise. We note that there is no prerequisite that cases of heading 4202, HTSUSA, be specially fitted to accommodate a particular object, nor need they necesarily possess handles or straps, nor must they be constructed with rigid exteriors. For example, many camera cases are not specially fitted, do not have handles, are soft-sided and have zipper enclosures. A camera case does nothing more than provide a protective shell in which to store or transport a camera until time of use. Similarly, the articles at issue protect and provide a place of storage and a means of transport for computer discs until time of use. Each case shares common characteristics: both are designed to accommodate a particular type of article and each case is used to store, protect and provide a convenient mode of transport. We note that Customs has maintained this position in the past and classified cases very similar to the articles at issue under heading 4202, HTSUSA. See NYRL 872277, dated April 7, 1992, NYRL 868933, dated December 18, 1991, and NYRL 868901, dated December 2, 1991, in which disc carrying cases, compact disc cases and canvas discman carrying cases were classified under heading 4202, HTSUSA.

It may be argued that because the subject merchandise is referred to as "computer data storage disc organizers," they are not classifiable as containers, but should be classified in a manner consistent with Customs' prior treatment of organizers and portfolios. See HRL 951218, dated July 28, 1992, HRL 950397, dated January 23, 1992, and HRL 088791, dated March 19, 1992 which classify and describe various types of organizers and portfolios. Notwithstanding the name "computer data storage disc organizer," these articles are not similar to other types of protective covers often referred to as "organizers" or

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"portfolios". Organizers or portfolios are usually fitted with special design features such as interior slits into which note pads may be held in place, loops which accommodate pens and pencils, and means by which such items as calculators or day planners may be affixed. In other words, organizers and portfolios, by design, actively organize their internal contents and form an integral unit with them. That is not the case with the instant merchandise. Pursuant to a fundamental tenant of Customs law, goods are classified in accordance with their condition at the time of importation. The computer disc cases at issue are imported without plastic inserts and, in this state, do not perform organizational functions. Even assuming, arguendo, that these cases were imported with the inserts in place, their primary purpose is not organizational, but to protect, store, and enable the convenient transportation of discs. Hence any analogy between the subject merchandise and "organizers", or "portfolios" is unwarranted.

We note that even if the articles at issue were not classifiable in heading 4202, HTSUSA, Chapter 39 would still not provide the appropriate classification for these items. Heading 3923, HTSUSA, provides for "articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics." As mentioned supra, the subject merchandise is primarily used to store and transport computer discs on the person. This office has consistently ruled that articles primarily used to protect or store goods are not classifiable in heading 3923, HTSUSA, as that heading provides for articles for "packing" and "conveying." See HRL 083441, dated October 23, 1989, which distinguished between a refuse cart and a refuse bag and determined that the former was used principally for storage and therefore was beyond the purview of heading 3923, HTSUSA.

Similarly, the subject merchandise is not akin to photo albums with plastic inserts which are classifiable under heading 3924, HTSUSA. First, as mentioned supra, the articles at issue are not imported with the plastic inserts reminiscent of a photo album's inserts. Second, photo albums are distinguished from the instant merchandise because they are primarily articles used to display photographs in the home. In the instant case, displaying computer discs in the home is not the purpose of these articles; their purpose is to provide a place of storage and a convenient means of transport. Heading 3924, HTSUSA, is inapplicable because it provides for, in part, "other household articles" and the subject merchandise cannot be properly deemed a household article.

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The subject merchandise is properly classifiable under subheading 4202.92.9020, HTSUSA, which provides for, in pertinent part, trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; other: with outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials: travel sports and similar bags: with outer surface of textile materials: other... other: of man-made fibers. The rate of duty is 20 percent ad valorem and the applicable textile quota category is 670.

The designated textile and apparel categories may be subdivided into parts. If so, the visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available we suggest the importer check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, the importer should contact his local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division