CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965614 DBS

Mr. Alexander H. Schaefer
Crowell & Moring LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20005

RE: Printing ink; “Pro-Jet Fast Cyan 2 Stage”

Dear Mr. Schaefer:

This is in response to your letter of December 3, 2001, resubmitting your original letter of November 8, 2000, to the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, on behalf of Avecia Inc., requesting the classification of a “Pro-Jet Fast Cyan 2 Stage” colorant, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was referred to this office for reply. A sample was submitted, and a teleconference with members of my staff took place on September 19, 2002.


The subject merchandise, “Pro-Jet Fast Cyan 2 Stage” (“Cyan 2”), is a copper phthalocyanine derivative dye-based ink jet product for use in aqueous ink jet printing systems. Aqueous ink jet systems require specific ink properties to be present for the machinery to work optimally and for the ink and substrate to bond properly. Ink jet ink is distinguishable from traditional ink by its purity. It cannot contain extraneous material that may clog the fine printhead nozzles of an ink jet printer.

“Cyan 2” is a mixture of an anionic water-soluble dye in an aqueous vehicle. No binder is present because after the dye mixture penetrates ink jet media (plain paper or special media), elements present in the mixture cause it to “lock” into plain paper or bond to special media by interacting with the chemical qualities of that substrate.

The chemical composition of “Cyan 2” was designed by for tinctorial brightness, light fastness and high water fastness on both plain paper and special media. Its high degree of consistency and extremely low salt levels combined with its thermal stability characteristics, render the colorant suitable for all aqueous ink jet systems.

“Cyan 2” is a “stage,” imported in a concentrated paste form called “press paste.” During the teleconference with Customs, your client explained to Customs that a “stage” does not contain the specific additives at importation required for the various ink jet applications and for the specific needs of different consumers. Your client stated it is theoretically useable in an ink cartridge at importation, but that the product is subject to additional processing, including purification through filtration, standardization, and pH balancing to improve water fastness, as well as the addition of additives depending upon the required ink jet application. In addition, although the paste as imported has a certain degree of water fastness, certain elements are added upon importation to increase the final product’s water fastness.


Whether “Cyan 2” is a preparation based on a dye of heading 3204, HTSUS, or a printing ink of heading 3215, HTSUS.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

3204 Synthetic organic coloring matter, whether or not chemically defined; preparations as specified in note 3 to this chapter based on synthetic organic coloring matter; synthetic organic products of a kind used as fluorescent brightening agents or as luminophores, whether or not chemically defined: Synthetic organic coloring matter and preparations based thereon as specified in note 3 to this chapter:

3204.14 Direct dyes and preparations based thereon:

3204.14.30 Other

* * * 3215 Printing ink, writing or drawing ink and other inks, whether or not concentrated or solid: Printing ink:

3215.19.00 Other

In your request for a binding ruling, you contend that “Cyan 2” is classifiable as a printing ink of heading 3215, HTSUS.

The EN 32.15 describes printing ink as follows:

(A) Printing inks (or colours) are pastes of varying consistency, obtained by mixing a finely divided black or coloured pigment with a vehicle. The pigment is usually carbon black for black inks and may be organic or inorganic for coloured inks. The vehicle consists of either natural resins or synthetic polymers, dispersed in oils or dissolved in solvents, and contains a small quantity of additives to impart desired functional properties. …

These products are generally in the form of liquids or pastes, but they are also included in this heading when concentrated or solid (i.e., powders, tablets, sticks, etc.) to be used as inks after simple dilution or dispersion. Heading 3215, HTSUS, is an eo nomine provision. An eo nomine provision is one that describes a commodity by a specific name, as opposed to use. Absent limiting language or indicia of contrary legislative intent, an eo nomine provision covers all forms of the article. See National Advanced Sys. v. United States, 26 F.3d 1107, 1111 (Fed. Cir. 1994). An eo nomine provision may be limited by use, but such use limitation should not be read into an eo nomine provision unless the name itself inherently suggests a type of use. See United States v. Quon Quon Co., 46 C.C.P.A. 70, 72-73 (1959), cited by Carl Zeiss, Inc. v. United States, 195 F.3d 1375, 1379 (Fed. Cir. 1999). The name “printing ink” inherently suggests use in printing. See Corporation Substalistatica, SA v. United States, 511 F. Supp. 805, 809 (citing Quon Quon, 46 C.C.P.A. at 72-73, to determine that the eo nomine designation for ink powder necessarily included the product at issue because of its application in gravure printing after the addition of solvent).

The court stated in Borneo Sumatra Trading Co., Inc. v. United States, 311 F. Supp. 326, 338-39 (Cust. Ct. 1970), the “tariff acts are ‘written for the future,’ and that certain articles are deemed to be technological advancements or commercially sophisticated versions of eo nomine provisions for merchandise.” Citing R.J. Suanders & Co., Inc. v. United States, 49 CCPA 87, C.A.D. 801 (1962). See also Simmon Omega, Inc. v. United States, 83 Cust. Ct. 14, 36-7 (1979) (“it is inconceivable that Congress would have intended to foreclose from classification … future innovations….”).

“Cyan 2” consists of a form of colored dye dissolved in an aqueous solvent comprised, in large part, of water. We acknowledge that ink jet printing is a continually advancing field, and that ink jet vehicles may not contain traditional binders (i.e., resins or polymers) because of the degree of purity required for optimal ink jetting. But ink jet ink is ink used for printing. Thus, if an ink jet ink binds to a substrate without traditional binding agents, it may still be classifiable as a printing ink.

You contend the product imparts the essential elements of printing ink. However, EN 32.15 states that printing inks contain small quantities of additives to impart desired functional properties. You acknowledge that “Cyan 2” requires the addition of certain elements for water fastness and other undisclosed additives required of the specific ink jet application for which it is being purchased, as well as additional purification and standardization. Although your client stated that “Cyan 2” may theoretically be used in an ink jet cartridge after simple dilution, as is described in EN 32.15, it is not generally used as an ink without post-importation processing that exceeds “simple dilution or dispersion.” Without specific information on the exact additives and processing done post-importation, we must conclude that “Cyan 2” falls short of being printing ink for tariff purposes.

Heading 3204, HTSUS, provides, in pertinent part, for preparations based on a direct dye classifiable in heading 3204, HTSUS. Note 3 to chapter 32, HTSUS, states:

Headings 32.03, 32.04, 32.05 and 32.06 apply also to preparations based on colouring matter (including, in the case of heading 32.06, colouring pigments of heading 25.30 or Chapter 28, metal flakes and metal powders), of a kind used for colouring any material or used as ingredients in the manufacture of colouring preparations. The headings do not apply, however, to pigments dispersed in non-aqueous media, in liquid or paste form, of a kind used in the manufacture of paints, including enamels (heading 32.12), or to other preparations of heading 32.07, 32.08, 32.09, 32.10, 32.12, 32.13 or 32.15.

The EN for subheadings 3204.11 to 3204.19 states that the synthetic organic coloring matter and preparations based thereon are subdivided on the basis of application or use. The EN describes direct dyes, in pertinent part, as, “water-soluble anionic dyes which, in aqueous solution in the presence of electrolytes, are substantive to cellulosic fibres …used for dyeing…paper.”

“Cyan 2” is a mixture of a water-soluble anionic dye in an aqueous solution used for ink jet printing on paper or special media. This product is substantially described by the EN for subheading 3204.14, HTSUS. In a post-teleconference submission, you rely on Tomoegawa USA, Inc. v. United States, 681 F. Supp. 867, 874 (Ct. Int’l Trade 1988), aff’d in part and vacated in part, 861 F.2d 1275 (Fed. Cir. 1988), wherein the court held that although the imported toner performed the function of dye, it was more than a dye or color because it was “of a particular kind and is prepared for the particular process of electrophotography,” to support your contention that “Cyan 2” is not classifiable in heading 3204, HTSUS. We agree that the product performs the function of a direct dye, as it is used to color paper, but is designed specifically for ink jet printing applications. However, “Cyan 2” is a “stage,” and is suitable for use in all ink jet printing systems. Product literature states it is “versatile enough for use in SOHO, photo and graphic applications.” It is not limited to a particular process of ink jet printing, whereas the product in Tomoegawa was limited to a particular process of electrophotography. Further, as Tomoegawa was decided under the TSUS, the provision at issue, “colors, stains and dyes,” did not include preparations based on dyes. As such, the provision did not cover a product that was “more than a dye.” Id.

Heading 3204, HTSUS, does provide for preparations. Note 3 defines preparations of heading 3204 as being “of a kind used for colouring any material or used as ingredients in the manufacture of colouring preparations.” You argue that a preparation is for use in the making or production of ink, and that “Cyan 2” is not used in the manufacture or production of ink. However, note 3 does not limit preparations as such, as it specifically covers preparations of a kind used in the manufacture of color preparations, as well as preparations of a kind used for coloring any material. See, e.g., NY B84817, dated July 10, 1997 (classifying “Chromocolor Aqualite Ink” consisting of thermochromic dye, wax and resin as a preparation of synthetic organic coloring matter). You have presented insufficient evidence as to why the product is not covered as a preparation of heading 3204, HTSUS, and how it can be distinguished from such preparations. Therefore, the product is classifiable in subheading 3204.14.30, HTSUS, as a preparation based on a direct dye.


“Pro-Jet Fast Cyan 2 Stage” is classifiable in subheading 3204.14.00, HTSUS, which provides for, “Synthetic organic coloring matter, whether or not chemically defined; preparations as specified in note 3 to this chapter based on synthetic organic coloring matter; synthetic organic products of a kind used as fluorescent brightening agents or as luminophores, whether or not chemically defined: synthetic organic coloring matter and preparations based thereon as specified in note 3 to this chapter: direct dyes and preparations based thereon: other.”


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division