CLA-2: RR:CTF:TCM H044559 RM
Edward F. Juliano, Esq.
1050 Winter Street,
Waltham, MA 02451
Re: Classification of a Front-Opening Unified Pod (“FOUP”)
Dear Mr. Juliano:
This is in response to your correspondence, dated October 27, 2008, on behalf of Entegris, Inc., in which you request a classification ruling for the Spectra™ 300 mm Wafer Front-Opening Unified Pod (“FOUP”) under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). In reaching our decision, we have taken into consideration the arguments you raised during a meeting in this office on November 12, 2008, as well as in a supplemental submission, received on December 18, 2008.
The merchandise at issue is the Spectra™ 300 mm Wafer FOUP, a box-shaped plastic container with an integrated wafer magazine for storing and transporting up to twenty-five, 300 mm semiconductor wafers. It includes a plastic flange at the top containing kinematic couplings, e.g., pins, rails, holes, and other supports, specially designed to mate mechanically with an automated material handling system (“AMHS”), a machine that transports the FOUPs to the different processing stations in a semiconductor fabrication facility. A plastic door with a lock assembly seals the container and protects the wafers from contaminants.
In use, an AMHS transports the FOUP to the loading station of a semiconductor processing tool and places it flush against a tool door having two keys. The tool door, attached to a robotic arm, opens the FOUP door by turning its keys, and unloads the wafers for processing. The wafers are subsequently reloaded into the FOUP and transferred to another station in the facility by the AMHS.
You indicated that some facilities use the same AHMS to handle reticle pods in addition to the FOUPs. According to the information provided, in these situations, the FOUPs outnumber the reticle pods such that approximately 80 percent of the AMHS’ use would be attributed to carrying FOUPs.
What is the proper tariff classification of the Spectra™ 300 mm Wafer FOUP under the HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation ("GRIs"). GRI 1 provides, in part, that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to terms of the headings 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 order.
The HTSUS provision under consideration is as follows:
8486 Machines and apparatus of a kind used solely or principally for the manufacture of semiconductor boules or wafers, semiconductor devices, electronic integrated circuits or flat panel displays; machines and apparatus specified in Note 9(C) to this chapter; parts and accessories:
8486.90.00 Parts and accessories …
Note 2 to Section XVI, HTSUS, provides, in relevant part:
Subject to note 1 to this section, note 1 to chapter 84 and note 1 to chapter 85, parts of machines (not being parts of the articles of heading 8484, 8544, 8545, 8546 or 8547) are to be classified according to the following rules:
* * *
(b) Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading (including a machine of heading 8479 or 8543) are to be classified with the machines of that kind or in heading 8409, 8431, 8448, 8466, 8473, 8503, 8522, 8529 or 8538 as appropriate. However, parts which are equally suitable for use principally with the goods of headings 8517 and 8525 are to be classified in heading 8517;
Note 9(C) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, states, in relevant part:
Heading 8486 also includes machines and apparatus solely or principally of a kind used for:
lifting, handling, loading or unloading of boules, wafers, semiconductor devices, electronic integrated circuits and flat panel displays.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“ENs”) constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (August 23, 1989).
The ENs to heading 8486, HTSUS, provide, in part:
(D) MACHINES AND APPARATUS SPECIFIED IN NOTE 9 (C) TO THIS CHAPTER
This group covers machines and apparatus solely or principally of a kind used for:
(3) lifting, handling, loading or unloading of boules, wafers, semiconductor devices, electronic integrated circuits and flat panel displays (e.g., automated material handling machines for transport, handling and storage of semiconductor wafers, wafer cassettes, wafer boxes, and other material for semiconductor devices). (Emphasis added).
(E) PARTS AND ACCESSORIES
Subject to the general provisions regarding the classification of parts (see the General Explanatory Note to Section XVI), the heading includes parts and accessories for machines and apparatus of this heading. Parts and accessories falling in this heading include, inter alia, work or tool holders and other special attachments which are solely or principally used for the machines and apparatus of this heading.
In Bauerhin Technologies Limited Partnership, & John V. Carr & Son, Inc. v. United States, 110 F.3d 774 (Fed. Cir. 1997) (hereinafter “Bauerhin”), the court considered the nature of "parts" under the HTSUS and two distinct though not inconsistent tests resulted. See Bauerhin, 110 F.3d at 779 (citing United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc., 21 C.C.P.A. 322 (1933) and United States v. Pompeo, 43 C.C.P.A. 9 (1955)). The court in Bauerhin explained:
As set forth in Willoughby Camera, “an integral, constituent, or component part, without which the article to which it is to be joined could not function as such article” is surely a part for classification purposes. 221 C.C.P.A. at 324. However that test is not exclusive. Willoughby Camera does not address the situation where an imported item is dedicated solely for use with the article. Pompeo addresses that scenario and states that such an item can also be classified as a part.
Reconciling Willoughby Camera with Pompeo, we conclude that where, as here, an imported item is dedicated solely for use with another article and is not a separate and distinct commercial entity, Pompeo is a closer precedent and Willoughby Camera does not apply […] Under Pompeo, an imported item dedicated solely for use with another article is a “part” of that article within the meaning of the HTSUS.
Applying Bauerhin, we find that a FOUP is a “part” of an automated material handling system (“AMHS”). FOUPs are integral to the machine’s function of transporting wafer boxes around semiconductor fabrication facilities in a manner that minimizes the risk of wafer contamination. In turn, an AMHS is a machine of a kind used principally for transporting and handling semiconductor wafers (it carries wafer boxes approximately 80 percent of the time). See Note 9(C)(iii) to Chapter 84, HTSUS. See also EN 84.86(D).
Note 2(b) to Section XVI, HTSUS, provides that “parts” not more specifically provided elsewhere, that are suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine, e.g., a machine solely or principally used to handle wafers (Note 9(C) to Chapter 84, HTSUS), are classified with that machine. FOUPs contain a plastic flange designed specifically for attachment to an AMHS that makes them “suitable” for use solely or principally with a machine of Section XVI, HTSUS. Accordingly, pursuant to Note 2(b) to Section XVI and Note 9(C) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, we conclude that the merchandise is classified in heading 8486, HTSUS, as a “part” of a machine used solely or principally for the transport and handling of semiconductor wafers. This conclusion is further supported by EN 84.86(D)(3), which lists wafer boxes as an exemplar of machines and apparatus solely or principally of a kind used for lifting, handling, loading or unloading of wafers.
By application of GRI 1, Note 2(b) to Section XVI, and Note 9(c) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, the Spectra™ 300 mm Wafer FOUP is classified in heading 8486, specifically in subheading 8486.90.00, HTSUS, which provides for: “Machines and apparatus of a kind used solely or principally for the manufacture of semiconductor boules or wafers, semiconductor devices, electronic integrated circuits or flat panel displays; machines and apparatus specified in Note 9(C) to this chapter; parts and accessories: Parts and accessories.” The 2009 column one, general rate of duty is: Free.
Duty rates are provided for convenience only and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/.
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time the goods are entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the CBP officer handling the transaction.
Gail A. Hamill, Chief
Tariff Classification and Marking Branch