CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955448 DWS
Mr. Matthew A. Joseph
Mitsubishi Electric America, Inc.
1050 East Arques Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
RE: Full-Color Outdoor Display System; HQs 088639, 086032,
and 087547; Oxford International Corporation v. U.S.;
Explanatory Notes 85.31 and 2(a)(VII); GRI 2(a);
Dear Mr. Joseph:
This is in response to your letter of November 22, 1993,
concerning the classification of a full-color outdoor display
system under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
The merchandise consists of the Mitsubishi Diamond Vision Mark
III HC full-color outdoor video display system (Mark III), designed
for use in stadiums, race tracks, arenas, and coliseums. The Mark
III is typically used as the video display component of a stadium
scoreboard. It features modular construction, offering several
different screen sizes ranging from 250 inches (3.84m x 5.12m) to
1000 inches (12.16m x 20.48m). It is our understanding that the
Mark III is imported in a complete and disassembled form, and is
constructed in the U.S. after importation.
Each lighting unit of the Mark III contains 16 flat matrix
cathode ray tube (CRT) lighting elements. Each lighting element
comprises 16 color dots in a 4 x 4 array. Each screen module
consists of a 2 x 4 array of lighting units. Modules are stacked
and placed side by side to achieve desired screen height and width.
Screen functions are divided into transmission control and
display control. Transmission control is mediated by a module
controller. Display control is implemented when stored information
is processed to derive control signals for the lighting elements.
The Mark III does not contain a receiver device. It has the
ability to display data received from a number of different
sources, including television cameras, video cassette recorders
(VCRs), cable television, graphics generators, and computer
generated data or images.
The subheadings under consideration are as follows:
8531.20.00: [e]lectric sound or visual signaling apparatus
(for example, bells, sirens, indicator panels,
burglar or fire alarms), other than those of
heading 8512 or 8530 . . . : [i]ndicator panels
incorporating liquid crystal devices (LCD's) or
light emitting diodes (LED's).
The general, column one rate of duty for goods classifiable
under this provision is 2.7 percent ad valorem.
8543.80.95: [e]lectrical machines and apparatus, having
individual functions, not specified or included
elsewhere in this chapter . . . : [o]ther
machines and apparatus: [o]ther: [o]ther.
The general, column one rate of duty for goods classifiable
under this provision is 3.9 percent ad valorem.
Whether the Mark III is classifiable under subheading
8531.20.00, HTSUS, as an indicator panel, or under subheading
8543.80.95, HTSUS, as an other machine, having individual
functions, not specified or included elsewhere in chapter 85,
Whether the Mark III, imported in a complete and disassembled
form, is to be classifiable as if it were imported in a complete
and assembled form.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance
with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order.
GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the
terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.
In HQ 088639, dated June 3, 1991, we held that merchandise
similar to the Mark III [the Sunfire video display screen
(Sunfire)] was classifiable under subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUS,
the precursor provision to subheading 8543.80.95, HTSUS, under the
1991 HTSUS. In so classifying the Sunfire, HQ 088639 revoked HQ
087547, dated October 10, 1990, which held the Sunfire to be
classifiable under subheading 8531.20.00, HTSUS.
You have requested that we revoke HQ 088639, because it is
argued that the drafter of that ruling misapplied the holding in
Oxford International Corporation v. U.S., 75 Cust. Ct. 58, C.D.
4608 (1975), a decision which interpreted provisions under the
Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the precursor to the
HTSUS, in coming to the decision that the Sunfire was classifiable
under subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUS.
As you are aware, the holding in HQ 088639 also relied on the
holding in HQ 086032, an HTSUS ruling. Consequently, because of
precedence under the HTSUS on this issue, and the presence of
sufficiently clear notes under the HTSUS concerning indicator
panels, it is our position that a discussion of the relevance of
a TSUS court case to the holding in HQ 088639 is not necessary in
As was stated in HQ 088639:
HQ 086032, dated January 17, 1990, held that a message
display center which operated on a computer program to
generate full color animation, graphics, and text, was
properly classifiable under subheading 8543.80.90, [HTSUS]
. . . In that decision, we stated that:
Nevertheless, the message display centers perform a function
which is different than that of signalling equipment.
Although the instant merchandise can flash graphics or
animation to call attention to the display, its primary
purpose is to convey a substantive message; this function is
more than that of signalling equipment which is designed to
provide a signal to a viewer who normally will
instantaneously understand the meaning of the signal.
In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized
Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be
utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to
be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54
Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). In part, Explanatory
Note 85.31 (pp. 1381 - 1382) states that:
[t]he heading includes, inter alia:
(A) - (C) xxx
(D) Indicator panels and the like. These 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.
(1) Room indicators. These are large panels with
numbers corresponding to a number of rooms. When a
button is pressed in the room concerned the
corresponding number is either lit up or exposed by
the falling away of a shutter or flap.
(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. Some types are merely a simple
"come in" or "engaged" sign illuminated at will by
the occupant of the office.
(4) Lift indicators. These indicate, on an illuminated
board, where the lift is and whether it is going up
(5) Engine room telegraph apparatus for ships.
(6) Station indicating panels for showing the times and
platforms of trains.
(7) Indicators for race courses, football stadiums,
bowling alleys, etc. . .
(E) - (H) xxx
It is our position that the Mark III is not classifiable as
an indicator panel under heading 8531, HTSUS. The primary purpose
of the Mark III is to show such phenomena as live action or video
images to an audience. This purpose goes far beyond mere
signalling, in that the Mark III, in conveying a substantive
message, entertains an audience rather than alerting it to a signal
which the audience will immediately understand.
Also, the only exemplar listed under Explanatory Note 85.31
which may remotely describe the Mark III is that of exemplar (7)
listed above. We contacted a representative of the International
Trade Commission (ITC) to find out the intent of the drafters of
Explanatory Note 85.31 as to the type of articles covered by note
(7). We were advised that merchandise such as the Mark III was
never intended to be classifiable under heading 8531, HTSUS. Note
(7) covers articles such as scoreboards which show numbers in
correspondence with such limited language as "time outs remaining",
"quarter", "home" and "visitor", and "time remaining". The purpose
of the Mark III is far different from that of the articles of note
Because the Mark III is not described elsewhere in the HTSUS,
we find that it is classifiable under subheading 8543.80.95, HTSUS.
However, we must now determine whether the Mark III, imported
in a complete and disassembled form, is classifiable as if it were
imported in a complete and assembled form. GRI 2(a) states that:
[a]ny reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to
include a reference to that article incomplete or
unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or
unfinished article has the essential character of the
complete or finished article. It shall also include a
reference to that article complete or finished (or falling
to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this
rule), entered unassembled or disassembled.
In part, Explanatory Note 2(a)(VII) (p. 2) states that:
[f]or the purposes of this Rule, "articles presented
unassembled or disassembled" means articles the components
of which are to be assembled either by means of simple
fixing devices (screws, nuts, bolts, etc.) or by riveting or
welding, for example, provided only simple assembly
operations are involved.
We are satisfied that, once imported into the U.S., simple
assembly operations are involved in assembling the Mark III.
Therefore, under GRI 2(a), the disassembled Mark III is to be
classifiable as if it were imported into the U.S. in an assembled
The Mark III full-color outdoor display system is classifiable
under subheading 8543.80.95, HTSUS, as an other machine, having
individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in
chapter 85, HTSUS.
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
HQ 088639 is affirmed.
John Durant, Director