CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953444 CMS
Ms. Laura Lyons
1090 East Duane Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
RE: HQ 952406, 952779, Revocation; HQ 088520; Caller I.D.;
Caller Identification; Visual Signaling; Display; Telephone
Number; Date; Time; NEC America, Inc. v. United States;
Dear Ms. Lyons:
This is in reference to HQ 952406, issued to you on October
31, 1992, in which we classified certain "Call Display" devices in
heading 8517, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
(HTSUS). We have reconsidered this issue and for the reasons set
forth, are revoking HQ 952406 and classifying the devices in
heading 8531, HTSUS.
The merchandise consists of apparatus described as "Call
Display" units. The devices display the telephone number of a
calling party on a liquid crystal display (LCD). They also record
the telephone number, date and time of the call for display at a
later time. The devices plug into a standard modular wall jack,
and do not require that a telephone be attached in order to
In HQ 952406, we referred to HQ 952779 (October 31, 1992),
issued to Colonial Data Technologies Corp., which involved the
classification of "Caller I.D." devices which were similar to the
"Call Display" devices at issue in HQ 952406. In HQ 952779, we
held that the merchandise was classified as electrical apparatus
for line telephony, in heading 8517, HTSUS. This ruling was a
reconsideration of HQ 088520, dated September 10, 1991.
Is the merchandise classified as electric sound or visual
signaling apparatus, in heading 8531, HTSUS, or as electrical
apparatus for line telephony, in heading 8517, HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The HTSUS provides that the classification of articles is
governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1
states in pertinent part that "...classification shall be
determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative
section or chapter notes...".
Heading 8531, in part, provides for electric sound or visual
signaling apparatus. Heading 8517, in part, provides for
electrical apparatus for line telephony.
In HQ 088520 (September 10, 1991), we noted on page 2 that
the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory
Notes, although not dispositive, are to be used for guidance in
determining the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg.
35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). We noted that the Explanatory
Notes to heading 8531, p. 1382, provide that the heading covers:
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.
(emphasis in original)
In HQ 088520, we found that the Caller I.D. devices visually
signal the numbers associated with telephone calls by means of a
liquid crystal display. We held that the merchandise was
specifically described as "[e]lectric sound or visual signaling
apparatus (for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels...:
...other apparatus", and was classified in subheading 8531.80.00,
In HQ 952779 (October 31, 1992), we reconsidered HQ 088520,
especially in light of NEC America, Inc v. United States, 11 CIT
934, 681 F.Supp. 862 (1987), aff'd, 857 F.2d 787 (Fed. Cir.
1988), cert. den., 489 U.S. 1017. The Court in NEC America, Inc.,
supra, ("NEC"), found that the prior case of NEC America, Inc v,
United States, 8 CIT 184, 596 F.Supp. 466 (1984), aff'd, 760 F.2d
1295 (Fed. Cir. 1985), which involved the same merchandise and
parties, was controlling. In the 1984 decision, the Court held
that certain radio receiver pagers were classified as solid-state
radio receivers in item 685.24 of the Tariff
Schedules of the United States (TSUS). In HQ 952779, we relied on
NEC for support in finding that the Caller I.D. devices were
classified as telephonic apparatus in heading 8517, HTSUS.
Upon further evaluation, it is our opinion that NEC is not
instructive or applicable in the classification of the Caller I.D.
devices at issue in HQ 952779. Cases decided under the TSUS are
not dispositive in determining HTSUS tariff classifications,
although they may be considered instructive in particular
circumstances. See H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2d
Sess. 549-50 (1988).
A consideration of the distinctions between the merchandise
at issue under the TSUS provisions in NEC, and the Caller I.D.
devices at issue under the legal principles of the HTSUS, leads to
a finding that NEC is not analogous to the Caller I.D. devices.
At issue in NEC was the classification of radio receiver pagers
which received and stored coded messages, stock quotations and
telephone numbers. HQ 952779 involves Caller I.D. devices which
must be classified under the governing principles of the HTSUS.
It is our opinion that pursuant to GRI 1 of the HTSUS, with
the guidance provided by the Explanatory Notes, the Caller I.D.
devices at issue in HQ 952779, and the Call Display devices at
issue in HQ 952406, are properly described and classified in
heading 8531, HTSUS. Within heading 8531, the merchandise is best
described as "[e]lectric sound or visual signaling apparatus (for
example, bells, sirens, indicator panels...: ...Indicator panels
incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's)", in subheading
Although the devices appear to be prima facie described by
heading 8517, HTSUS, they are still classified in heading 8531,
HTSUS, where they are more specifically provided for pursuant to
See HQ 953366, of this date, for the revocation of
HQ 952779 (October 31, 1992).
The Call Display devices are classified as "[e]lectric sound
or visual signaling apparatus (for example, bells, sirens,
indicator panels...: ...Indicator panels incorporating liquid
crystal devices (LCD's)", in subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS,
currently subject to a Column 1 General rate of duty of 2.7%, ad
valorem. HQ 952406 (October 31, 1992), is revoked pursuant to
section 177.9(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(d)).
John Durant, Director