CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087902 MBR

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
127 North Water Street
Ogdensburg, New York 13669

RE: Protest No. 0712-90-000226, dated 3/26/90; Manual Matrix Switches; Control or Adapter Units of ADP Systems; 8471

Dear Sir:

This is our response regarding Further Review of Protest No. 0712-90-000226, dated March 26, 1990, which pertains to the classification of Manual Matrix Switches, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The Manual Matrix Switch ("Switch") operates as a sharing device for peripheral automatic data processing (ADP) units. The Switch acts as a channel through which data, in coded form, is transferred from a ADP central processing unit (CPU) to and ADP peripheral output device, such as a laser printer, dot matrix printer, plotter, etc. The Switch establishes a link between a digital computer and another digital computer for the exchange of information, or between a digital computer and an ADP output device, such as a printer. The purpose of this device is to optimize the usage of digital computers and output devices in a network configuration.


What is the classification of Manual Matrix Switches for automatic data processing unit interconnection, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

The Manual Matrix Switches were classified in subheading 8537.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[b]oards, panels (including numerical control panels), consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity, including those incorporating instruments or apparatus of chapter 90, other than switching apparatus of heading 8517: [f]or a voltage not exceeding 1,000 v."

The importer protests this classification and asserts that the proper classification for the Switches is under subheading 8473.30.40, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[p]arts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of headings 8469 to 8472: [p]arts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471: [n]ot incorporating a cathode ray tube."

Legal Note 5(B), chapter 84, delineates "units" of automatic data processing (ADP) systems. Legal Note 5(B) states:

Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separately housed units. A unit is to be regarded as being a part of the complete system if it meets all of the following conditions:

(a) It is connectable to the central processing unit...

(b) It is specifically designed as part of such a system...

The Switch is connectable to a central processing unit, and is specifically designed as a part of an ADP system. In fact, the Switch's very design and function requires connection to a central processing unit, and the Switch's sole purpose is as a unit of an ADP system.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN), for heading 8471, page 1299, state:


This heading also covers separately presented constituent units of data processing systems. Constituent units are those defined in Parts (A) and (B) above as being parts of a complete system.

Apart from central processing units and input and output units, examples of such units include:

(4) Control and adaptor units such as those to effect interconnection of the central processing unit to other digital data processing machines, or to groups of input or output units which may comprise visual display units, remote terminals, etc. (emphasis added).

This category includes channel to channel adaptors used to connect two digital systems to each other.

In HQ 085661, dated February 15, 1990, we defined the scope of the term "channel" in relation to this EN. Here we stated that a "channel" is described as that portion of the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer which connects input and output devices to the CPU. Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, (7th ed. 1988), p. 565.

Clearly, the Switch is designed to effectuate the interconnection of the central processing unit(s) to an output unit(s). Furthermore, control units are described as intermediary control devices which link peripheral units to the CPU. C.J. and R.J. Sippl, Computer Dictionary and Handbook, (3rd ed. 1980), p. 115. Control units are used to interface (i.e., interact or interconnect) computers and peripheral devices. Myles E. Walsh, Understanding Computers: What Managers Need to Know, (1981), p. 36. See HQ 087468, dated January 8, 1991, and HQ 086105, dated May 7, 1990.

Therefore, since the Switch interconnects peripheral units to the CPU, it is classifiable as a control unit for an ADP system.


The Matrix Manual Switch is properly classifiable under subheading 8471.99.15, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[a]utomatic data processing machines and units thereof: [o]ther: [o]ther: [c]ontrol or adapter units." The rate of duty is Free.

Since reclassification of the merchandise as indicated above will result in the same rate of duty as claimed, you are instructed to allow the protest in full. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Form 19 Notice of Action.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division