CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950466 HP
Mr. Marty Langtry
Castelazo & Associates
5420 West 104th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90045
RE: Elastic cord lace system for athletic shoes with plastic
clips and de minimus sticker.
Dear Mr. Langtry:
This is in reply to your letter of September 5, 1991. That
letter concerned the tariff classification, under the Harmonized
Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of a
shoe lace system, produced in Taiwan. Please reference your
client Stonewall Trading (a.k.a. Angel-etts).
The merchandise at issue consists of an elastic cord lace
system for athletic shoes, item no. LS-1. The article is used as
a replacement for regular shoe laces to secure athletic shoes
about the foot. It consists of two stretch lace cords composed
of rubber strips covered by braided man-made fiber, and secured
at either end by a piece of plastic, two round plastic clips
covered by rubber semi-basketballs, and a round flat plastic
sticker, measuring approximately 4" in diameter. Printed on the
words "Do It With NRG". The product packaging also has printed
upon it "NRG".
Whether the lace system is considered a set put up for
retail sale under the HTSUSA?
Page 2 of 4
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Heading 6307, HTSUSA, normally provides for shoe laces. The
Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA constitute the official
interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While
not legally binding, they do represent the considered views of
classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It
has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow,
whenever possible, the terms of the Explanatory Notes when
interpreting the HTSUSA. The EN to this heading states, however,
that "(15) ... laces consisting of spun yarns or cords with
fitted ends are excluded (heading 56.09).
The appropriate heading for the laces is 5609, HTSUSA. The
plastic clips are provided for in heading 3926, HTSUSA. The
plastic sticker is covered by heading 3919, HTSUSA. The General
Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) to the HTSUSA govern the class-
ification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in
pertinent part, that:
... classification shall be determined ac-
cording to the terms of the headings and any
relative section or chapter notes ...
Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to
be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order.
GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:
When by application of Rule 2(b) [goods of
more than one material or substance] or for
any other reason, goods are, prima facie,
classifiable under two or more headings,
classification shall be effected as follows:
* * *
(b) ... goods put up in sets for retail
sale, which cannot be classified by
reference to 3(a) [which requires
that goods be classified, if possi-
ble, under the more specific of the
competing provisions], shall be
classified as if they consisted of
... component which gives them
their essential character, insofar
as this criterion is applicable.
Explanatory Note (X) to GRI 3 provides, in pertinent part:
For the purposes of [GRI 3(b)], the term
"goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall
be taken to mean goods which:
Page 3 of 4
(a) consist of at least two different
articles which are, prima facie,
classifiable in different headings.
* * *;
(b) consist of products or articles put
up together to meet a particular
need or carry out a specific ac-
(c) are put up in a manner suitable for
sale directly to users without
It is clear that the laces and plastic clips meet the
requirements for classification as a set put up for retail sale.
You have argued, however, that the addition of the plastic
sticker "precludes the [entire] package from being classified as
We agree in part. The laces and clips are packaged together
to meet a particular need; specifically:
instantly transforming the athletic shoes into slip-ons
providing perfect support by moving when the wearer moves
keeping laces tied permanently via unique locking system.
The sticker, if not considered de minimus, unquestionably plays
no part in meeting this need.
Under the de minimus rule, a component which is merely an
incidental or immaterial element of an entire article, does not
enhance its value, and has no commercial purpose, is disregarded
for classification purposes. Tuscany Fabrics, Inc. v. United
States, 65 Cust. Ct. 182, 317 F. Supp. 741 (1970), aff'd, 59
C.C.P.A. 77, C.A.D. 1043, 454 F.2d 1188 (1972), cert. denied, 409
U.S. 845, 34 L.Ed 2d 85, 93 S.Ct 47 (1972). Examining the
specific commercial purposes toward which the laces and clips are
packaged together a set, supra, it is clear that the addition of
the sticker (1) does not enhance the value of the set, (2) is
merely incidental to the set, and (3) has no viable commercial
purpose legitimately connected to the set. The sticker is
considered de minimus; therefore, it is ignored when determining
that the entire package is a set for retail sale.
As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is
classified under subheading 5609.00.4000, HTSUSA, as articles of
yarn, strip or the like of heading 5404 or 5405, twine, cordage,
rope or cables, not elsewhere specified or included, other. The
applicable rate of duty is 7.8 percent ad valorem.
Page 4 of 4
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry
documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the
documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be
brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division