CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 089122 EAB
U.S. Customs Service
150 North Royal Street
Mobile, Alabama 36602
Re: Application for Further Review of Protest No. 1901-0-
000039, dated December 17, 1990, concerning laser
printer toner cartridge
This is a decision on a protest filed December 17, 1990,
against your decision in the classification of merchandise under
the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated
The protestant entered all goods in subheading 8473.30.4000,
HTSUSA, a provision for parts and accessories of machines of
heading 8471, not incorporating a cathode ray tube, free of duty.
Customs reclassified the subject goods under subheading
3707.90.3000, HTSUSA, as chemical preparations for photographic
uses other than in sensitized emulsions. The rate of duty was
advanced to 8.5 percent ad valorem.
Protestant seeks reclassification of the goods to subheading
8473.30.4000, HTSUSA, providing as stated above. Protestant has
offered a sample of the toner cartridge, a memorandum in support
of the argument that the goods are part of a machine rather than
a chemical or mixture of chemicals having a photographic use, and
a quantitative analysis of the chemicals in the toner cartridge.
The cartridge is essentially a sealed cylinder measuring 12"
in length x 2.25" in diameter; it is made of plastic. Through
the center axis of the cartridge runs a shaft, to the outside of
which is attached a vane; when in place in the printer, the vane
turns the shaft, thereby agitating the toner contents, permitting
even dispersion throughout the useful life of the cartridge. The
cartridge is not refillable; when its contents are exhausted, it
must be replaced with a new cartridge. The contents of the
cartridge are the dry toner, a polyester resin containing organic
pigment around a magnetite core.
The sole use of the chemically charged cartridge is for
What is the proper classification under the HTSUSA of non-
reusable laser printer toner cartridges filled with toner?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The tariff classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is
governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of
Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or
context which otherwise requires, by the Additional U.S. Rules of
Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of
Interpretation are part of the HTSUSA and are to be considered
statutory provisions of law for all purposes. GRI 1 requires
that classification be determined according to the terms of the
headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or
chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the
remaining GRI's taken in order.
The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Descrip-
tion and Coding System represent the official interpretation of
the Customs Cooperation Council on the scope of each heading;
although neither binding upon the contracting parties to the
Harmonized System Convention nor considered to be dispositive
interpretations, they should be consulted on the proper scope of
Heading 3707, HTSUSA, covers chemical preparations for
photographic uses, other than preparations not relevant to this
decision. Note 2, chapter 37, provides that "the word
'photographic' relates to a process which permits the formation
of visible images directly or indirectly by the action of light
or other forms of radiation on sensitive surfaces."
Heading 8471, HTSUSA, includes automatic data processing
machines and units thereof. Note 5, chapter 84, provides in
pertinent part as follows:
(B) 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
(a) It is connectable to the central processing unit
either directly or through one or more other
(b) It is specifically designed as part of such a
system (it must, in particular, unless it is a
power supply unit, be able to accept or deliver
data in a form (code or signals) which can be used
by the system).
Such units entered separately are also to be classified
in heading 8471.
Explanatory Note 84.71(I)(A) advises that "[d]igital data
processing machines usually consist of a number of separately
housed interconnected units. They then form a 'system'." A
complete digital data processing system must comprise, at least a
central processing unit, an input unit and an "output unit which
converts the signals provided by the machine into an intelligible
form (printed text, graphs, displays, etc.) * * * [emphasis in
original]." Id. "Separately presented units" covered by heading
8471, apart from central processing units and input and output
units, include, among other devices, "[a]dditional input and
output units (* * * printers, graph plotters, * * * etc.)
[emphasis in original]." Explanatory Note 84.71(I)(D)(1).
Subheading 8471.92.6560, HTSUSA, covers printer units,
assembled, laser. Finally, as stated above, subheading 8473.30
covers parts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471.
In Tomoegawa USA, Inc. v. U.S., 12 CIT 112 (1988), the court
was called upon to determine if certain imported toner and
developer was as a chemical mixture not specially provided for,
or other ink, as claimed by the importer. While not specifically
stated therein, the court's analysis and holding suggest that the
goods were imported in bulk containers or, possibly, retail size
packagings, but, in any event, not in single-use containers that
were designed to be simply "popped-into" a printer, as an imaging
cartridge. The court found that the goods were classifiable as
chemicals, not inks, and held that Customs classification was
correct. We are of the opinion that neither the facts nor the
posture of that case is applicable to this decision. First, the
goods at issue were dry. As a matter of customs law, the court
stated that "ink requires a liquid component," Id. at 117,
citing as precedential authority Corporacion Sublistatica, S.A.
v. U.S., 1 CIT 120, 124 (1981). Since the goods were dry, the
importer's claimed classification was not supportable as a matter
of law. Second, having decided that the goods were not ink, the
court found that the goods were photographic chemicals as a
matter of fact, the process of electrophotography being
encompassed by the term photography, Tomoegawa, supra, 119.
Here, we do not dispute that the chemicals in the toner cartridge
are "photographic chemicals." As a question of fact, we must
determine if the chemically charged toner cartridge is a part of
an automatic data processing system unit and, if so, then is the
charged cartridge more specifically described as such rather than
as photographic chemicals. In other words, the classification
issue presented concerns the laser printer toner cartridge that
contains chemicals, and not the chemicals themselves.
In HRL 089260 (August 12, 1991), Customs ruled that a "laser
printer toner cartridge" containing a photosensitive drum in
addition to the dry toner, developer, corona unit and cleaner
blade was properly classifiable under subheading 8473.30.40,
HTSUSA, by reason of Section XVI, Note 2(b), providing, inter
alia, that parts of machines covered under chapter 84 are to be
classified under the same heading as the machine itself. We
affirmed NYRL 864182 (June 14, 1991). (NB that in the original
HRL 089260, supra, the New York Ruling Letter was mistakenly
cited as NYRL 884182.)
In HQ 088828 (July 3, 1991), Customs ruled that synthetic
ligands in a gel matrix packed in a tube and used in affinity
chromatography, were parts of protein isolation kits which held
ten such tubes, each filled with a different ligand. In so
ruling, we stated, "The mere fact that two articles are designed
to be used together is not alone sufficient to establish that
either is a part of the other * * * It must also be shown that
the article claimed to be a part subserves an essential purpose
in the thing for which it is destined * * * 'the determining fact
is not whether the alleged part can be used without the article,
but whether the article can be used for its intended purpose
without that part.' [citing] Westfield Manufacturing Company v.
U.S., 46 Cust. Ct. 52,56, C.D. 2232, 191 F.Supp. 578, 580-581,
(1961)." Whereas the PIKs could not be used without the
adsorbents, clearly the adsorbents were parts of the PIKs. See
also Lee Enterprises, Inc. v. U.S., 84 Cust. Ct. 208, 215, C.D.
4860 (1980): a rotary letterpress "could not function for the
purpose for which it was designed without the use of the printing
plates" which were described and, therefore, classifiable as
parts rather than as other articles not elsewhere specified or
A non-reusable laser printer toner cartridge containing
electrophotographic chemicals is not itself "photographic
chemicals" and is not, therefore, properly classifiable under
heading 3707, HTSUSA. We are of the opinion that such an article
is a "part." The question remains if it is properly classifiable
under heading 8473, HTSUSA, as a part of machine or unit
described in heading 8471, HTSUSA.
We are of the opinion that a non-reusable laser printer
toner cartridge containing electrophotographic chemicals is
sufficiently advanced in the manufacturing process at the time of
importation to be identifiable as a part of an output unit of an
automatic data processing system, heading 8471, HTSUSA. Such a
cartridge clearly has been manufactured to particular
specifications and has no use other than as a part of a printer
into which it is inserted. A laser printer cannot function for
the purposes for which it is designed without the use of the
laser printer toner cartridge.
We conclude that under GRI 1, there is no need to look at
GRIs subsequent thereto in order to classify such an article,
since it is specifically described as a part in heading 8473 of
the Schedule. We find that a laser printer toner cartridge is
classifiable under subheading 8473.30.4000, HTSUSA.
The protest should be granted.
A non-reusable laser printer toner cartridge is properly
classifiable under subheading 8473.30.4000, HTSUSA, parts
suitable for use solely or principally with machines of headings
8469 to 8472, parts and accessories of the machines of heading
8471, not incorporating a cathode ray tube. Articles classified
under this subheading for the year 1991 are to be entered free of
A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs
Form 19 and mailed to the protestant as part of the notice of
action on the protest.
John Durant, Director