CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 959745 JRS

Ms. Marilyn-Joy Cerny
Global Customs & Trade Specialists, Inc.
Milltown Office Park - Suite B-202
Route 22
Brewster, New York 10509

RE: Ceramic tableware, of porcelain or china, used in the rental industry; heading 6911, ceramic household tableware, of porcelain or china, versus ceramic hotel and restaurant tableware and other non-household tableware, of porcelain or china; HQ 082780; principal use, class or kind; Carborundum factors

Dear Ms. Cerny:

This is in response to your letter dated May 22, 1996, requesting a ruling on behalf of Seneca-Delco Corporation, concerning the classification of ceramic tableware intended to be used in the tableware rental industry. We have taken into consideration additional information presented at the meeting held on January 8, 1997, and your further submissions dated January 16, May 15, and June 11, 1997, which present information on a GSA institutional standard for white, restaurant-grade, china dinnerware. We regret the delay in responding.


Seneca-Delco (hereinafter, SD) imports tableware designed exclusively for institutional use and sold expressly and exclusively to institutional buyers such as restaurants, hotels, airlines, nursing homes and hospitals. SD plans to import certain tableware designed especially for sale to rental companies and private caterers, who will in turn rent the tableware to individuals and others hosting parties at homes or other private locations. This merchandise will be marketed and sold at Rental Industry Trade Shows and will be priced based on individual 5-piece settings, not individual pieces. SD claims that the end users of rental chinaware are more concerned with appearance than durability, and consequently, the chinaware is thinner and lighter than institutional chinaware. SD will not provide the "non-chipping guarantee" that it traditionally offers for its institutional chinaware.

A sample of the plate to be imported from Poland was substituted for the original prototype from Bangladesh (Ten Strawberry Street). A comparison sample of the standard commercial chinaware used in hotels, restaurants and other institutions also was presented. The dinner plate at issue measures 10 11/16 inches in diameter and weighs 531 grams (18.59 oz. or 1 lb. and 2.59 oz.). It is bright white in color with a high-gloss glaze. The "rim" portion of the plate measures 1 and 11/16 inches in width and is a little over 1/16ths of an inch in thickness. On the back of the plate, a label containing the following words appear:


The chinaware will be imported in either plain white or white with a single or double overglazed metal (i.e., gold, silver or platinum) band(s), to be located either on the outside rim of the plate or on both the outside and inside rims. No center designs, crests, or logos will be used.

The subheadings under consideration are as follows:

6911 Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of porcelain or china: 6911.10 Tableware and kitchenware: 6911.10.10 Hotel or restaurant ware and other ware not household ware...doz.pcs. 31% ad valorem

Other: Other: Other: 6911.10.52 Cups valued over $8 but not over $29 per dozen; ... plates not over 22.9 cm in maximum di- ameter and valued over $8.50 but not over $31 per dozen; plates over 22.9 but not over 27.9 cm in maximum diameter and valued over $ll.50 but not over $41 per dozen; ... doz PCs. 8% ad valorem


Whether tableware used in the rental industry is classified as tableware for hotel or restaurant and other non-household ware, or as tableware for household ware.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. Chapter 69, HTSUS, provides for ceramic products.

Heading 6911 covers all tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of porcelain or china. Tableware and kitchenware is further subdivided into two distinct categories under subheading 6911.10: (1) articles for hotel or restaurant ware and other ware not household ware and (2) household ware. The household ware category is further subdivided by articles of bone chinaware and other than bone chinaware, and further subdivided by those available in specified sets and those that are not.

SD contends that the rental chinaware falls within the class of goods principally used in the household and is therefore classifiable under the tariff provisions covering tableware "other" than hotel or restaurant ware.

When an article is classifiable according to the use of the class or kind of goods to which it belongs, Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUS, provides that: in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires-- (a) a tariff classification controlled by use (other than actual use) is to be determined in accordance with the use in the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation, of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong, and the controlling use is the principal use. In other words, the article's principal use at the time of importation determines whether it is classifiable within a particular class or kind. In Lenox Collections v. United States, 20 CIT , Slip Op. 96-30 (Feb. 2, 1996), the Court in its analysis referred to Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a) and the need to focus on the principal use of the class or kind of goods to which an import belonged, not the principal use of a specific import, citing Group Italglass U.S.A., Inc. v. United States, 17 CIT 1177, 1178, 839 F. Supp. 866, 867 (1993).

Headings 6911, 6912 and 6913, HTSUS, have been held to be "use" provisions both by the courts and Customs. See Lenox Collections v. United States, 19 CIT 345 (1995); HQ 084122; HQ 958999. Because both subheadings 6911.11.10 and 6911.11.52, HTSUS, are use provisions, Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUS, applies. "Principal use," for purposes of Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), means the use "which exceeds any other single use of the article." See U.S. International Trade Commission, Conversion of the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated Into the Nomenclature Structure of the Harmonized System: Submitting Report at 34-35 (USITC Pub. No. 1400)(June 1983).

On a case-by-case basis, decisions under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) - the HTSUS predecessor tariff - are deemed instructive in interpreting HTSUS provisions, provided the nomenclature remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTSUS. See H. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. 548, 550 (1988), a conference report to the Omnibus Trade & Competitiveness Act of 1988, Pub. L. No. 100-418. The nomenclature of the TSUS and the HTSUS are identical. Both provisions distinguish between "hotel or restaurant ware and other ware not household ware" and "household" ware. As the language of the two nomenclatures is identical, and the issue is essentially the same, we must consider HQ 082780, dated December 18, 1989, which was based on the TSUS. The only difference between the TSUS and the HTSUS in heading 6911 is the standard of use. "Principal use" replaced the prior standard of "chief use."

While Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a) provides general criteria for discerning the principal use of an article, it does not provide specific criteria for individual tariff provisions. However, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) has provided factors, which are indicative but not conclusive, to apply when determining whether particular merchandise falls within a class or kind. They include: general physical characteristics, the expectation of the ultimate purchaser, channels of trade, environment of sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display), use in the same manner as merchandise which defines the class, economic practicality of so using the import, and recognition in the trade of this use. See, Kraft, Inc, v. U.S., USITR, 16 CIT 483, (June 24, 1992)(hereinafter Kraft); G. Heilman Brewing Co. v. U.S., USITR, 14 CIT 614 (Sept. 6, 1990); and U.S. v. Carborundum Company, 63 CCPA 98, C.A.D. 1172, 536 F. 2d 373 (1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 979; Lenox Collections v. United States, 20 CIT , Slip Op. 96-30 (Feb. 2, 1996). Generally speaking, commercial porcelain tableware (other than household) consists of two basic groups. The first is the traditionally thick and very heavy tableware used in institutional food services and the second is the thinner, not as heavy tableware used for finer or fancier dining. The "fine chinaware" is used by restaurants, hotels and caterers who want to offer their patrons fancier tableware.

The American Hotel China is made in three grades based on wall thickness: Grade (1), Thick china,' 5/16 to 3/8 inch walls, is used for the more severely handled service, typically at lunch counters and military messes; Grade (2), Hotel (rolled edge) China,' 5/32 to 1/4 inch walls, is the normal type for hotel and restaurant service; and Grade (3), Medium-weight china,' less than 1/4 inch walls, is furnished for higher-class eating places where the service is handled with reasonable care, home usage, and also for numerous jars, trays, etc. in hospitals. See Felix Singer & Sonja S. Singer, Industrial Ceramics, Chemical Publishing Co., Inc., New York (1963) at p. 1096; see Rexford Newcomb, Jr., Ceramic Whitewares, Pitman Publishing Corp., New York (1947) at pp. 227-230; see Arthur E. Dodd & David Murfin, Dictionary of Ceramics, The Institute of Materials (3rd ed., 1994) at p. 11.

As set forth in Industrial Ceramics (pps. 1089, 1096), commercial chinaware is made from the highest grade of raw materials (predominantly a mixture of kaolin, flint, feldspar and ball clay), selected to give the inside body as white a color as possible. It is very high in mechanical strength. The ware is not translucent in the normal hotel-china thickness, but it would be translucent if made as thin as other types of tableware. It is fired to complete vitrification (very low water absorption--under 0 - 3%), then covered with a fairly hard, resistant glaze. It has a high alumina content which gives its characteristic high strength.

From the chapter on "Ceramics in the Home" in Industrial Ceramics (pps. 1089, 1096), there is also a class of dinnerware termed American Household China, which is a fine ware of very high strength (mechanical shock resistance) and translucency, but tending to cream instead of white. The body type is soft porcelain and it is used as high-grade domestic tableware. It uses the same raw materials (32% kaolin) as American Hotel China except for whiting and dolomite, and like the American Hotel China, has a low water absorption under 0 - 1%. Another class of dinnerware, Semi-Vitreous China, is the commonest type of lower priced tableware in the U.S. which is used for general household use and contains 19% kaolin, and which has little to no translucency, medium to high mechanical shock resistance, and a higher water absorption of 4 - 10%. Id. at pp. 1089, 1095.

You have presented Federal Specification M-C-301L (June 21, 1976) used by the military which sets forth the requirements for chinaware specifically purchased for mess facilities. The GSA standard, Commercial Item Description No. A-A-2585A (GSA June 1, 1993), covers "white, restaurant-grade, china dinnerware" and establishes purchase requirements for performance, design, and construction requirements for restaurant-grade chinaware. It requires the article to pass several tests to be considered hotel grade. These include impact strength, chipping resistance and thermal shock as well as other requirements. Three samples each of a dinner plate, dessert dish, cup, and saucer were submitted to an independent laboratory for testing. The chinaware failed the impact strength requirement. On the basis of the lab report, you conclude that since the chinaware failed the impact strength criteria used by GSA, it must not be classified as hotel-grade but should be considered household ware. We note that information on the other GSA requirements listed on the GSA standard was not provided.

The test results show that the chinaware in issue does not satisfy the impact and chipping resistance requirements (Paragraphs 4.5.1 and 4.5.2) of the GSA standard. However, it does not fall within the class of the traditional thick and heavy institutional ware to which M-C-301L is applicable.

With regard to using a GSA standard to distinguish hotel/restaurant ware from household ware, the GSA standard applies to only chinaware of specific size and dimensions. The GSA standard dimension is for a dinner plate, 9 inches plus 1/4 inch or minus 1/16 inch, in outside diameter, which is considerably smaller than the 11 and 11/16 inches dinner plate at issue; the GSA rim width is 1/2 inch minimum to 3/4 inch maximum, which is much narrower than the 1 and 11/16 inch rim width of the prototype; the GSA height is 1 inch, plus 1/8 inch or minus 3/16 inch, while the prototype's height is less than 1 inch; the GSA bottom thickness is 1/8 inch minimum and the prototype is lower at 1/16 inch. The GSA standard is not useful because it requires specific dimensions for hotel grade ware, i.e., if the ware does not meet the dimensional requirements it will not be classified as hotel-grade. The GSA standards are also limited in usefulness because they are specifications for a narrow line of merchandise, to wit, china tableware for mess facilities.

It is the use of the chinaware and not the physical composition that is critical for classification purposes. For example, in HQ 082780, Customs held that if a plate was emblazoned with a logo or crest of the hotel or restaurant, it was found to be hotelware regardless of the fact that without the logo, crest or symbol the chinaware would be classified as household chinaware.

In HQ 082780, the Carborundum factors were applied to determine whether chinaware containing a variety of patterns was classifiable as hotel or restaurant ware (item 533.52, TSUS) or household ware (item 533.64, TSUS). That ruling involved imported fine household china intended for use by restaurants and hotels in their "finer dining areas." In addition, some of the household chinaware was modified (e.g., hotel/restaurant logos/names added to plate designs or patterns removed from the center of the plate) for sale to restaurants. Customs held that with the exception of the china containing hotel/restaurant logos or names, which are properly classified in the class of china used for hotels and restaurants, the patterned chinaware sold to and used by restaurants and hotels fell within the class of china "chiefly used" as household ware since the percentage of sales and amount of use of household china by restaurants and hotels did not exceed all other uses. On the facts presented, HQ 082780 is correct but is distinguishable from the chinaware at issue.

A review of the literature and pictures of the chinaware in HQ 082780 reveals that of the 32 patterns, 12 were bone china (clearly within the household class) and the 20 other patterns of the "fine dining" chinaware were fully vitrified porcelain and would be considered either "hotel china" or "medium-weight" grade commercial china. The importer, Villeroy & Boch (hereinafter V&B), was both a hotel/restaurant and household supplier. V&B "fine dining" chinaware was stated to have more sophisticated decoration, color varieties and body shapes than typical institutional tableware and was oriented more towards specialty dining than coffee-shop or banquet type operations. The fine dining range of V&B's fully-vitrified porcelain chinaware was also suitable for hotel and restaurant use due to its use of body design and its "hotel" glaze (a durable, ivory-colored glaze which is exceptionally hard and both scratch and abrasion resistant). V&B stated in its "Hotel and Restaurant Division" brochure that the main difference between its "fine dining" tableware and its hotel ware was the fact that the cups do not contain the alumina additive. In its line of hotel pattern, banquet-weight tableware, the facts presented by V&B were that the plates and cups are reinforced with fully 38.5% alumina, which reduces chipping and breakage and improves the heat-retaining qualities and, that the plates have reinforced, rolled edges, glazed and polished feet to prevent abrasion and minimize wear when stacking. The weight comparison between the hotel patterns and the retail patterns given for two plate patters was 1 lb. and 11 oz. (hotel) and 1 lb. and 1.5 to 5 oz. (retail) and for cups was 7 to 8.5 oz. (hotel) and 5.5 oz. to 6 oz. (retail).

The chinaware at issue in this case differs from and is distinguished from the tableware in HQ 082780 on principal use and on the Carborundum factors. This chinaware belongs to the "medium-weight" hotel china used for elegant dining. Due to technological advances, commercial ceramic dinnerware need not be bulky and lacking in style. Arguably, the differences may be in appearance but not in use. Thus, we are of the opinion that if the thickness of the chinaware is more than 1/4 inch, it is hotel-grade provided that the other characteristics are satisfied. If the thickness is less than 1/4 inch, it may be hotel ware or household ware depending on its use.

As a general rule, an article's physical form will indicate its principal use and thus to what class or kind it belongs. Should, however, an exception arise so that an article's physical form does not indicate to what class or kind it belongs or its physical form indicates it belongs to more than one class or kind, Customs considers the other enumerated principal use criteria to determine to which class or kind the article belongs, as household chinaware or institutional chinaware.

I. General Physical Characteristics

You contend that the subject chinaware falls within the class of goods that is principally used in the household as that in HQ 082780, contending that the following physical characteristics support the position that the rental chinaware is household chinaware and not institutional. However, we note that "medium-weight" hotel china has also found an increasing market for home use; for this purpose it is usually given more elaborate decoration than is normal in restaurant use. See Ceramics Whitewares at 228.

First, the chinaware in issue is lighter in weight than traditional institutional chinaware. The white institutional plate sample, "Atlantic," weighs 1 lb., 8 oz. (686 grams) and is 9 and 5/8 inches in diameter. It is the "classic" institutional plate found in a typical cafeteria or mess hall setting. To demonstrate that some household chinaware is heavier than the instant prototype, you presented two samples of household chinaware with very similar design features (e.g., plain white design with profile) obtained at a retail outlet and a wholesale company that supplies household articles to retail outlets which were heavier than the prototype: the "retail" plates were 741 grams (25.94 oz. or 1 lb. and 9.93 oz.) and 607 grams (21.24 oz. or 1 lb. and 5.24 oz.) in weight, respectively. You conclude that the differences between the two types of dinnerware warrant that the less bulkier goods are essentially for household use. The two examples of heavier "household" plates submitted, however, demonstrate that the line between household and hotel/restaurant ware is not as distinct as in the past; there is much overlap regarding physical characteristics. Also, the physical characteristics of household china vary widely. The two samples of the "heavier" retail dinnerware were packed in cartons (i.e., 20-piece set, containing four 5-piece place settings) ready for sale at retail. The fine dining chinaware used in hotels in HQ 082780 is indistinguishable from most household china in physical characteristics and design. Based on the weight comparison in HQ 082780, the prototype plate falls within the household class at 1 lb. and 2.59 oz.

Second, the subject chinaware is far too fragile to withstand the repetitive use of institutions largely due to its ornate shapes, curled edges and thin rims. Based upon the "hotel/restaurant" information in HQ 082780, the "fine dining" china for hotels has a variety of design shapes (e.g., Octavi/Mohn; Audun; Louis XIV; Castello; Facette) that could be characterized as ornate, but not necessarily too fragile or delicate for hotel use. The importer in HQ 082780 stated in its "Hotel and Restaurant Division" brochure that the main difference between its "fine dining" tableware and its hotel ware was the fact that the cups do not contain the alumina additive. We interpret that statement to mean that the cups may not be as durable is attributable to its composition, but not necessarily to its style/design. This argument does not take into account the "medium-weight" hotel china's characteristics.

Third, due to the fragile and delicate nature of the rental chinaware, the importer will not offer its "Non-chipping Guarantee" that is standard for its institutional chinaware (in which it agrees to replace institutional chinaware that is broken or chipped within one year of purchase). This factor merely demonstrates that the prototype plate is not as heavy as traditional institutional chinaware and does not have the typical (i.e., curled edge) plate design of traditional institutional ware.

Fourth, rental chinaware is more costly than institutional ware due to design costs and expenses relating to higher quality control standards. Rental companies can accept high breakage and chipping rates for the rental chinaware because they can recover the cost of the rental chinaware after very few uses. The price of the china is not a conclusive factor because the medium-weight hotel china is more expensive than the typical institutional "thick china."

Fifth, only a limited number of sizes are available in the rental chinaware, that is, only 3 to 4 plate sizes are available whereas generally 8 to 9 plate sizes are available with traditional institutional chinaware. In HQ 082780 there were typically 6 to 7 plate sizes for "hotel china" and 3 to 4 plate sizes for "medium-weight" hotel china. The number of plate sizes does not conclusively establish whether the chinaware falls in household or in the "medium-weight" commercial china group.

You assert that brighter metals will be used to create center and outer band designs on the rental chinaware, and that "shinier" gold bands are less durable than the burnished gold used on standard institutional ware where durability is more important than appearance. Again, this factor is not dispositive because it goes to the use of the chinaware where the expectation of the ultimate purchaser (e.g., caterer) is that the service will be handled with reasonable care versus the severely handled chinaware of army messes and the like. From the V&B "Hotel and Restaurant Division" brochure on "hotel-weight" china (p. 3) in HQ 082780, there was an option to have some semi-custom patterns decorated with gold lines on the rims which would not be underglazed. This practice demonstrates the market's aim of having hotel-weight and medium-weight china look more elegant for the gourmet dining rooms.

Since the plate's physical form does not conclusively indicate to which class it principally belongs, we will consider the other court-enumerated Carborundum factors.

II. Expectation of the ultimate purchaser

You contend that the rental companies purchasing this chinaware expect it to be of "household" quality because they in turn will market it to individuals (e.g., homeowners) for at-home parties. It is clear that the ultimate purchaser is either a rental company or a caterer, both commercial entities. Contrary to your assertions, the end-users of this chinaware (i.e., the customers of the caterer) are not the ultimate purchasers of the china because they are buying a service and not the chinaware.

With a traditional institutional ware purchaser, the expectation is that the restaurant china will provide a significant measure of durability which will enable continuous use without purchasing replacements. You suggest that the rental companies can recoup the cost of purchasing rental chinaware, which is more expensive than "institutional" ware, with only three rentals. This statement supports the contention that the ultimate purchaser is a commercial entity which is willing to pay more money for finer looking chinaware than the traditional mess-hall institutional ware. In other words, it is a necessary cost of doing business in the rental industry.

Also, we understand that the expectation of the caterer or rental company will be that the chinaware will be handled in a reasonable manner, as in "high-class" eating places utilizing "medium-weight" china, and that the durability is not as great a concern as is the eye-appealing quality of the chinaware with its more elaborate shapes, thinner rims and patterns/styles. The expectation of the caterer or rental company is to replicate or take the place of the fine bone chinaware typically found in the home, but with the durability of hotel china to attract the consumer's business.

III. Channels of Trade

The rental industry has trade shows, trade publications and catalogues directed to commercial end users and not to the household trade. SD notes that the suppliers of rental chinaware will market the chinaware at rental industry trade shows and that the only attendees at such trade shows are rental companies and caterers. SD was an exhibitor at the 41st Annual American Rental Association Convention & Rental Trade Show in 1997.

SD notes that the institutional food service companies do not participate in the rental industry's trade shows, as they have separate trade shows. It is well-known that institutional chinaware is offered for sale by independent sales representatives to wholesale commercial food service firms who neither offer nor sell chinaware to retailers. Since the rental chinaware is not sold through the retail environment but is marketed and sold at the rental industry trade shows, this factor tends to suggest that the channel of trade is commerical and not retail in nature. The fact that well-known household chinaware retailers are exhibitors at the rental industry trade shows does not convert the channel of trade to retail. It is mere evidence of companies trying to expand their market share by creating a niche.

IV. Environment of Sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display)

SD states that the rental chinaware will be priced and sold based upon individual 5-piece place settings, and not by individual pieces or by the dozen, which is the standard method that institutional chinaware is priced and sold.

This practice of pricing and selling based on place settings is very similar to household chinaware, which traditionally offers a dinner plate, salad/bread & butter plate, soup/cereal bowl, cup and saucer as the 5-piece place settings. In addition, SD asserts that rental companies will make available other home party accessory items with the chinaware, such as tents, tables, chairs, expensive linens and high-end flatware.

The "medium-weight" hotel china is indistinguishable from the household china in terms of selling practices regarding place settings. In HQ 082780, there typically was a choice of 3 to 4 flat plate sizes (ranging in size from 6 1/4 inch or 6 3/4 inch to 10 1/4 inch to 10 1/2 inch) in each of the fine porcelain chinaware and bone chinaware that was used in hotels and restaurants, which was found to be household chinaware. Likewise, accompanying accessory items to many of the patterned place settings for the fine dining chinaware in HQ 082780 were extensive, including many of the following in each pattern line: egg cups, cream soup cup and saucer, coffeepot (48 oz. [6 persons] and 28 oz. [2 persons]), teapot (38 oz. [6 persons]), covered sugar, creamer, salt/pepper set, covered butter dish, covered gravy boat, pickle dish and/or candlestick. Serving pieces of a variety of sizes were also available. These accessories are tailored to household use, and not table service.

In contrast, the chinaware grouped in the "hotel-weight" range in HQ 082780 had a narrower range of accessories tailored to suit the individual. The specific pieces of "hotel china" are designed to serve the individual rather than the family. For example, the "Cortina 2000 series," a Grade 2 "hotel china," encompasses accessories which have a smaller volume capacity such as an 11 oz. coffeepot, a 10 and 1/2 oz. teapot, a 3 and 1/2 oz. creamer. The plates are available in 6 or 7 different sizes (from 6 3/4 inch to 12 1/4 inch).

Although the pricing and selling of rental chinaware by place setting arguably falls within the class of household china, the manner of advertisement and display are representative of commercial chinaware sales. The manner of advertisement in both the institutional and rental industry is geared to the industry and not to the general public. The trade publications and catalogues in the institutional chinaware are directed to wholesale commercial food service firms and commercial end users. The chinaware is displayed via brochures and at trade shows in place settings. Orders are made directly through the suppliers to the manufacturers. The instant chinaware is not in the retail market and it cannot be obtained in a department store or other retail establishment whereby the consumer could register for it. Thus, it falls outside the class or kind principally used as household ware.

V. Usage in the same manner as merchandise which defines the class

SD contends that since the chinaware is used at home parties, it is within the class of household ware. We disagree. As noted in the discussion of the "expectation of the ultimate purchaser," the commercial end-users expect to use the chinaware, which attempts to replicate the look of the expensive fine household bone china, with reasonable care, either at the home or the banquet hall. The intended use will be the same as that accorded the "medium-weight" hotel china used in the fancy eating establishments which is manufactured to withstand the rigors associated with commercial use. The rental chinaware will be presumedly transported from location to location, and the soiled chinaware set in crates for insertion into commercial dishwashers. This usage will be commercial in nature, unlike the delicate use accorded to household china.

VI. Economic practicality of so using the import

See discussion in II. above.

VII. Recognition in the trade of this use

SD contends that household chinaware suppliers are selling their wares through the rental trade shows to take advantage of this growing market. If household chinaware dealers who typically market their chinaware directly to consumers or to the household trade are also now marketing their chinaware to the rental industry, this factor would suggest that commercial end users are willing to purchase retail chinaware. However, the general public is not invited to these industry trade shows.

Based upon the chinaware in HQ 082780, the evidence presented showed that the sales of the chinaware to hotels/restaurants did not exceed 51%, and as such, "chief use" was not met and the chinaware was thus classified as household china. In this case, the relevant standard is "principal use," a different standard than the prior tariff's "chief use" as defined earlier. From the evidence presented in the "channels of trade" discussion above, sales apparently are targeted to commercial entities, i.e., rental companies and caterers. As such, we find that there is a recognition in the trade that this class or kind of merchandise is principally used commercially, for other than household use.

Upon weighing all the Carborundum factors, we must conclude that the majority of the factors support principal use in the class of commercial chinaware. There exists an overlap between "medium-weight" hotel china for both household and commercial use on the current market. The distinction between the household and non-household ware is based upon the usage of the tableware rather than the actual physical composition. Although there is no tariff definition for hotel china and other non-household ware, it is the use that is controlling irrespective of the various physical properties. The chinaware at issue is of the class or kind principally used for other than household use. According, the chinaware is properly described by subheading 6911.10.10, HTSUS.


Tableware used in the rental industry is properly classified as tableware for hotel or restaurant and other non-household ware under subheading 6911.10.10, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division