CLA-2 OT:RR:CTF:TCM H262583 GA
Mr. Michael Davis
Alps Electric (USA) Inc
3553 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95134 -1898
RE: Revocation of HQ 958572, HQ 958899, NY 814940, NY 814490; Classification of thermal transfer ribbon
Dear Mr. Davis:
This is in reference to Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HQ”) 958572, dated February 5, 1996, HQ 958899, dated February 14, 1996, New York Ruling Letter (“NY”) 814940, dated September 28, 1995, and NY 814490, dated September 28, 1995, concerning the tariff classification of thermal transfer ribbons, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). In HQ 958899 (which modified HQ 958572), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) determined that tape cassette cartridges are classifiable under subheading 9612.10.10, HTSUS, which provides for “Typewriter or similar ribbons, inked or otherwise prepared for giving impressions, whether or not on spools or in cartridges; ink pads, whether or not inked, with or without boxes: Ribbons: Measuring less than 30 mm in width, permanently put up in plastic or metal cartridges (whether or not containing pools) of a kind used in typwriters, automatic data processing or other machines.”
In addition, in NY 814940 and NY 814490, CBP also classified ink ribbon in subheading 9612.10.90, HTSUS, which provides for “Typewriter or similar ribbons, inked or otherwise prepared for giving impressions, whether or not on spools or in cartridges; ink pads, whether or not inked, with or without boxes: Ribbons: Other.” We have reviewed HQ 958572, HQ 958899, NY 814940, and NY 814490 and find them to be incorrect. For the reasons set forth below, we hereby revoke HQ 958572, HQ 958899, NY 814940, and NY 814490.
On July 6, 2016, pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1), as amended by section 623 of Title VI, notice of the proposed action was published in the Customs Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 27. No comments were received in response to this notice.
In HQ 958572 and HQ 958899, the subject merchandise was described follows:
Various tape cassette cartridges for use with the P-Touch lettering machines which produce adhesive labels from 3/8 to ½ inches in width.
In NY 814940 and NY 814490, the subject merchandise was described as
The merchandise under consideration involves a model MTM32 ink ribbon cartridge that is designed for use with a standard thermal printer for desktop computer users. It also includes the spooled ink ribbon itself which is constructed of polyethylene terepthalate.
The model MTM32 ribbon cartridge consists of a plastic cartridge (polystyrene) that is approximately eight inches in length and two inches in height. The cartridge houses a plastic ribbon on a spool, approximately 1/2 inch in width, that is inked and otherwise prepared for giving impressions.
The ink ribbon (M22190-02) is basically a plastic inked ribbon (polyethylene terepthalate) approximately 1/2 inch in width that is on a plastic spool. This ribbon becomes a part of the ribbon cartridge.
Whether the thermal transfer ribbons are classified in heading 9612,
HTSUS, as typewriter or similar ribbons, or in heading 8443, HTSUS, as parts of printing machinery.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
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 2 through 6 may then be applied in order.
The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
8443 Printing machinery used for printing by means of plates, cylinders and other printing components of heading 8442; other printers, copying machines and facsimile machines, whether or not combined; parts and accessories thereof:
9612 Typewriter or similar ribbons, inked or otherwise prepared for giving impressions whether or not on spools or in cartridges; ink pads, whether or not inked, with or without boxes:
Legal Note 1(q) to Section XVI, HTSUS, provides that:
Typewriter or similar ribbons, whether or not on spools or in cartridges (classified according to their constituent material, or in heading 9612 if inked or otherwise prepared for giving impressions).
Legal Note 2 to Section XVI, HTSUS, provides, in relevant part:
Subject to note 1 to this section, note 1 to chapter 84 and to 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:
Parts which are goods included in any of the headings of chapter 84 or 85 (other than headings 8409, 8431, 8448, 8466, 8473, 8487, 8503, 8522, 8529, 8538 and 8548) are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings;
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 to 8528 are to be classified in heading 8517;
All other parts are to be classified in heading 8409, 8431, 8448, 8466, 8473, 8503, 8522, 8529 or 8538 as appropriate or, failing that, in heading 8487 or 8548.
* * * *
Note 1(q) to Section XVI, HTSUS, provides: “Typewriter or similar ribbons, whether or not on spools or in cartridges (classified according to their constituent material, or in heading 9612 if inked or otherwise prepared for giving impressions).” Accordingly, if the subject merchandise is prima facie classifiable under heading 9612, HTSUS, it is excluded from classification under Section XVI. In QMS, Inc., v. United States, 19 C.I.T. 551; 17 Int’l Trade Rep. (BNA) 1510; 1995 Ct. Intl. Trade LEXIS 104; SLIP OP. 95-65 (Ct. Int’l Trade 1995), the court examined the classification of color ink sheet rolls (“ISRs”), also known as thermal transfer ribbons in the trade. See QMS, Inc., v. United States, 19 C.I.T. 551, 552 (“QMS”). These ISRs were specially designed solely for use in color thermal transfer printers that were used to print graphics with automatic data processing equipment. The printers could not function as intended without color ISRs. Id. at 551. In their condition as imported, the ISRs consisted of a thin polymer (i.e., plastic) film to which paraffin wax pigments (or “inks”) in varying color configurations (i.e., yellow, magenta, cyan, and black) had been applied. Id. at 551. The ISRs varied in size, depending on the color thermal transfer printers for which they are specially designed. They were between 228 and 325 millimeters in width, between 105 and 297 meters in length, and between 50 and 74 millimeters in diameter when tightly wound around a reinforced cardboard core. Id. at 551-552.
The court first considered classification in heading 9612, HTSUS, as typewriters or similar ribbons, and found that the subject ISRs could not be classified there because of the differences in physical characteristics and printing processes between ISRS and typewriter ribbons. Id. at 556. The court reasoned that typewriter ribbons are typically narrow while the ISRs were wide. Id. at 559. The court also noted that when typewriter ribbons are used, the ink is transferred to paper by impression which occurs when the ribbon is directly impacted by a mechanical striker. Thus, the court stated that the purpose of such ribbons is to serve as a medium for printing on paper by impression from impact, not the general purpose of printing. Id. at 559-560. By contrast, the court found that the purpose of the ISRs was to serve as a medium for the printing of graphic images on paper by use of heat. In the thermal printing process, pigmented wax is never transferred to the paper by means of impact. Id. at 560. As a result, the court found that the subject ISRs could not be classified in heading 9612, HTSUS.
Like in QMS in the present case, the subject thermal transfer ribbons also cannot be classified as typewriter ribbons of heading 9612, HTSUS, because they too are not similar enough to typewriter ribbons to be classified there. As in the case of QMS they also function as a medium for printing images onto various media by way of heat. This is in contrast to typewriter ribbon, which functions by transferring an image by way of impact. As a result, the subject thermal transfer ribbons cannot be classified in heading 9612, HTSUS, and classification under Section XVI can be considered. See also HQ H245899, dated July 23, 2014.
The term “part” is not defined in the HTSUS. In the absence of a statutory definition, the courts have fashioned two distinct but reconcilable tests for determining whether a particular item qualifies as a “part” for tariff classification purposes. Bauerhin Techs. Ltd. Pshp. v. United States, 110 F.3d 774, 779 (Fed. Cir. 1997). Under the test initially promulgated in United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc. (“Willoughby”), 21 C.C.P.A. 322, 324 (1933), an imported item qualifies as a part only if can be described as an “integral, constituent, or component part, without which the article to which it is to be joined, could not function as such article.” Bauerhin, 110 F.3d at 779. Pursuant to the test set forth in United States v. Pompeo, 43 C.C.P.A. 9, 14 (1955), a good is a “part” if it is “dedicated solely for use” with a particular article and, “when applied to that use…meets the Willoughby test.” Bauerhin, 110 F.3d at 779 (citing Pompeo, 43 C.C.P.A. at 14); Ludvig Svensson, Inc. v. United States, 63 F. Supp. 2d 1171, 1178 (Ct. Int'l Trade 1999) (holding that a purported part must satisfy both the Willoughby and Pompeo tests).
Here, the subject thermal transfer ribbons meet the definition of “parts” as defined by the courts because they are integral part of a printing machine without which the machine could not function. Because they do not fall under the scope of a single heading of Section XVI as goods unto themselves per Note 2(a) to Section XVI, supra, the subject thermal transfer ribbons are properly classified under heading 8443, HTSUS, as parts of printers by operation of Note 2(b) to Section XVI.
By application of GRIs 1 (Note 2(b) to Section XVI) and 6, the thermal transfer ribbons are classified in heading 8443, HTSUS, specifically in subheading 8443.99.25, HTSUS, which provides for “Printing machinery used for printing by means of plates, cylinders and other printing components of heading 8442; other printers, copying machines and facsimile machines, whether or not combined; parts and accessories thereof: Parts and accessories: Other: Parts and accessories of printers: Other.” The general column one rate of duty is “Free.”
Duty rates are provided for your convenience and 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.
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
HQ 958572, dated February 5, 1996, HQ 958899, dated February 14, 1996, NY 814940, dated September 28, 1995, and NY 814490, dated September 28, 1995 are hereby REVOKED.
In accordance with 19. U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after publication in the Customs Bulletin.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division