CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 952360 MBR

Mr. Don C. Johnson
Sharp Manufacturing Company of America
Sharp Plaza Boulevard
Memphis, Tennessee 38193

RE: XXXXXXXX Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Display Screen For Portable Television; LCD; Signaling; ADP

Dear Mr. Johnson:

This is in reply to your letter of June 15, 1992. requesting classification of Sharp's Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screen for Sharp portable color televisions, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was forwarded to this office for reply.


The instant merchandise consists of an active matrix liquid crystal display screen with a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, a printed circuit board, and a plastic diffuser panel, all of which are encased in a metal frame. In the condition in which it is imported, it does not contain a television tuner and is not capable of receiving a television broadcast signal or reproducing a video image.

You state that there are certain features which dedicate your LCD for use as a television screen. For instance, the drive electronics incorporated in the subassembly are specifically designed to process a video signal. These electronics receive a television broadcast signal from the tuner, which is incorporated in the main chassis of the television, and pass that signal onto the television screen. Secondly, you state that the active matrix liquid crystal cell used in the subassembly is particularly suitable for use as a color television screen due to its XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX.

Furthermore, the specially configured tape strip wiring at the bottom of the assembly connects the drive electronics with he television's main electronics. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.


Are active matrix liquid crystal displays for portable televisions classified under heading 8529, HTSUS, which provides for television apparatus, or under heading 8531, HTSUS, which provides for electric sound or visual signaling apparatus, or under heading 8471, HTSUS, which provides for ADP output devices, or under heading 9013, HTSUS, which provides for liquid crystal devices n.s.p.f., under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)?


The General rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS 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 Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) are prima facie classifiable under the following subheadings:

8529 Parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8525 to 8528:

8529.90.20 Other: Of television apparatus: Printed circuit boards...: subassemblies containing one or more of such boards...: Other.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

8531 Electric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels...:

8531.20.00 Indicator panels incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's) or light emitting diodes (LED's)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

9013 Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings

9013.80.60 Other devices, appliances and instruments: Other

* * * * * * * * * * * *

8471 Automatic data processing machines and units thereof

8471.92.80 Other: Input or output units...: Other: Other: Units suitable for physical incorporation into automatic data processing machines or units thereof

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Heading 8531, HTSUS, provides for electric sound or visual signaling apparatus. Therefor, to be classifiable in this heading, the apparatus must be designed for "signaling," as that term is contemplated by the HTSUS.

The harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to heading 8531, HTSUS, page 1381, are fairly restrictive as to the class of signaling indicator panels and the types of functions that must be performed in order to be classifiable in that provision. It states that: "[t]hese are used (e.g., in offices, hotels and factories) for calling personnel, indicating where a certain person or service is required, indicating whether a room is free or not. They include:

(1) Room indicators. These are large panels with numbers corresponding to a number of rooms...

(2) Number indicators. The signals appear as illuminated figures on the face of a small box: in some apparatus of this kind the calling mechanism is operated by the dial of a telephone. Also clock type indicators in which the numbers are indicated by a hand moving round a dial.

(3) Office indicators, for example, those used to indicate whether the occupant of a particular office is free or not...

(4) Lift indicators. These indicate, on an illuminated board, where the lift is and whether it is going up or down, etc.

Therefore, only those LCDs which are limited by design and function to that of "signaling," are classifiable in heading 8531, HTSUS. It is Customs position that the instant active matrix LCD is not restricted by its deign to that of signaling. In fact, due to its advanced design a principal use of signaling cannot be supported.

Furthermore, the instant LCD would not be utilized as an automatic data processing machine output device. ADP LCD flat panel displays are characteristically significantly larger and contain numerous lines of characters and are typically configured 640 X 480 XXXXXX. This screen is too small to display text and graphics for any ADP application.

Heading 8531, HTSUS, and heading 8471, HTSUS, are both use provisions subject to Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1.(a) which states that: "a tariff classification controlled by use (other than actual use) is to be determined in accordance in accordance with the use in the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation, of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong, and the controlling use is the principal use." The instant sharp XXXXXX Active Matrix Liquid Crystal screen is not used either for signaling or for ADP applications.

E.M. Chemicals v. United States, Appeal No. 90-1141, Cust. Bul. Vol. 24, No. 51, (1990), 728 F. Supp. (1989), held that liquid crystals were classifiable under item 685.70, under the TSUS, the predecessor provision to heading 8531, HTSUS. However, there has been a significant change in the relevant tariff provisions under the HTSUS, and LCDs have been technologically developed for a myriad of uses, many of which cannot be said to be for "signaling." See HQ 951288, dated July 7, 1992, for a similar analysis of the LCD issue.

The instant active matrix LCDs are also prima facie classifiable in both subheading 8529.90.20, HTSUS, which provides for "[p]arts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8525 to 8528: [o]ther: [o]f television apparatus: [p]rinted circuit boards...; subassemblies containing one or more of such boards...: [o]ther." And subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, which provides for "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings: [o]ther devices, appliances and instrument: [o]ther."

However, Section XVI, Legal Note 1(m) states that: "[t]his section does not cover: [a]rticles of chapter 90." Heading 9013, HTSUS, provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings." Therefore, if the Sharp active matrix display is provide for more specifically in another heading, it would not be classifiable in heading 9013, HTSUS. It is Customs position that heading 8529, HTSUS, which provides for "parts," is not a more specific heading than heading 9013, HTSUS. Therefore, since the instant sharp active matrix LCD is classifiable in heading 9013, HTSUS, it is not classifiable in heading 8529, HTSUS, which falls in Section XVI.

In your submission you mention a Depart of Commerce antidumping duty order covering active matrix liquid crystal high information content flat panel displays and display glass therefore from Japan, citing 56 Fed. Reg. 43,741 (September 4, 1991). However, we suggest you contact the Department of Commerce directly if you do in fact wish a scope determination made in regard to your prospective importations.


The Sharp XXXXXX diagonal active matrix liquid crystal display screen for color portable televisions is classifiable in subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, which provides for: "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings : [o]ther devices, appliances and instruments: [o]ther." The rate of duty is 9% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division