MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 733185 KG

Salvatore E. Caramagno
Ross & Hardies
888 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-4103

RE: Country of origin marking of imported golf club grips

Dear Mr. Caramagno:

This is in response to your letter of March 27, 1990, requesting a country of origin ruling regarding imported golf club grips.


You contend that foreign-made golf club grips are appearing in the repair and replacement market which are not marked to indicate the foreign country in which they were made. The one piece grips submitted for examination are made of rubber or a similar material with a hard plastic end. You enclosed installation instructions for these grips and a regripping kit which show that the replacement of this type of golf club grip is a relatively simple operation which can be done by the individual owner or by a professional golf shop. The only tool required for assembly is a vise to hold the shaft. A special tape and solvent are used to attach the grip to the shaft. The operation does not take much time or special skill. Avid golfers tend to replace their grips often and it is common to replace them at least once a season.


Who is the ultimate purchaser of a one piece replacement golf club grip?


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. The Court of International Trade stated in Koru North America v. United States, 701 F.Supp. 229, 12 CIT (CIT 1988), that: "In ascertaining what constitutes the country of origin under the marking statute, a court must look at the sense in which the term is used in the statute, giving reference to the purpose of the particular legislation involved. The purpose of the marking statute is outlined in United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 CCPA 297 at 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940), where the court stated that: "Congress intended that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will."

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.1(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(d)), defines the ultimate purchaser as "generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. If an imported article will be used in manufacture, the manufacturer may be the ultimate purchaser if he subjects the imported article to a process which results in a substantial transformation of the article. If an article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the purchaser at retail is the ultimate purchaser."

A substantial transformation occurs when articles lose their identity and become new articles having a new name, character or use. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 at 270 (1940), National Juice Products Association v. United States, 10 CIT 48, 628 F.Supp. 978 (CIT 1986), Koru North America v. United States, 12 CIT ___, 701 F.Supp. 229 (CIT 1988).

Customs ruled in ORR 824-70 (August 24, 1970), that a manufacturer who purchased imported golf club heads, either finished or unfinished, and assembled them with shafts and grips into finished golf clubs was the ultimate purchaser of the imported golf club heads. The ruling directed that if the Regional Commissioner of Customs was satisfied that the imported golf club heads were to be used by an original equipment manufacturer that the golf club heads were excepted from individual marking. In HQ 728213 (July 3, 1985), Customs reiterated its position that the U.S. manufacturer of golf clubs is the ultimate purchaser of golf club heads which were to be used in the manufacture of finished golf clubs. In HQ 724901 (April 9, 1984), Customs advised that the ultimate purchaser of imported golf club grips to be used in the manufacture of golf clubs was the golf club manufacturer. Customs stated that golf grips which are imported by golf club manufacturers in the U.S. are substantially transformed into new and different articles of commerce, i.e., golf clubs.

Golf club grips imported by golf club manufacturers or intended to be sold to golf club manufacturers would be excepted from individual marking if the grips satisfied the provisions of section 134.35, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.35), which provides that if a U.S. manufacturer substantially transforms imported articles in the U.S., the imported articles are not required to be individually marked and only the outermost container in which the article is imported must be marked.

However, this case involves imported one piece golf club grips to be used in the repair or replacement market. Golf club grips are changed at least several times in the life of a club and an avid golfer might change his grips every season. The grips are available through catalogues and it does not appear difficult to install this type of grip onto a finished club. Merely slipping this type of grip onto a finished club would not create a new or different article of commerce. There would be no change in name, character or use. Merely fitting this type of golf club grip onto a finished golf club is a simple assembly, which does not constitute a substantial transformation. Therefore, pursuant to 19 CFR 134.1(d), the ultimate purchaser of this type of golf club grip to be put on a finished golf club would be the person who purchases the grip to put it on his or her golf club.

Since installation services are often provided by a golf shop, the ultimate purchaser often is not aware of the country of origin of the grip unless the grip itself is individually marked. Therefore, imported grips intended to be slipped onto already finished clubs would have to be individually marked with the country of origin of the grips. If imported grips are not marked with their country of origin, certification as to their end use must be presented to Customs at the time of entry to the satisfaction of the district director.


The ultimate purchaser of this type of imported golf club grip, which is intended for the replacement or repair market, is the person who purchases the grip for his or her own golf club. Therefore, this type of imported grip intended for the replacement or repair market must be individually marked with its country of origin. Certification as to the end use of the imported golf grip must be presented to Customs at the time of entry to the satisfaction of the district director if the imported grip is not individually marked.


Harvey B. Fox
Office of Rulings & Regulations

cc: Commercial Fraud Enforcement Center

Stephanie Castro
San Diego Customs