CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 960323 RFA
Mr. Frank Dailey
American Overseas Air Freight, Inc.
11034 South La Cienga Blvd.
Inglewood, CA 90304-1998
RE: Bridge Rectifier Diodes; Thyristor Modules; Electrical
Static Converters; Legal Notes 2 and 5 to Chapter 85;
Headings 8504 and 8541; ABB Power Transmission v. United
States, Slip Op. 95-141; NY 884870, revoked
Dear Mr. Dailey:
This is in reference to NY 884870 issued to you on May 6,
1993, by the Area Director of Customs, New York Seaport, on
behalf of Microsemiconductors Corp., regarding the tariff
classification of bridge rectifier diodes under the Harmonized
Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). In the course of
ruling on similar merchandise, we have determined that NY 884870
is incorrect. Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930
[19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)], as amended by section 623 of Title VI
(Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade
Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057
(1993), notice of the proposed revocation of NY 884870 was
published on April 2, 1997, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 31,
The merchandise consists of bridge diodes or sometimes
referred to as Bridge Rectifier Diodes (BRD's). The BRD's are
comprised of four discrete rectifier diodes or cells connected
together into a bridge configuration, some with mountings,
housings and integral cooling attachments. Each of the four
diodes is a two terminal device with a single p-n junction which
allows current to pass in one direction.
The articles have four terminals and an asymmetrical
voltage-current characteristic used for the purpose of
rectification. All the series KBPC6 BRD's are used for the
function of converting alternating current to direct current.
The BRDs are used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial
products, such as power supplies, personal computers and
associated equipment (i.e., printers and monitors).
Are the BRD's classified as diodes under heading 8541,
HTSUS, or as static converters under heading 8504, HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in
accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI
1 provides that classification shall be determined according to
the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter
Legal Note 2 to chapter 85, HTSUS, states that: "[h]eadings
8501 to 8504 do not apply to goods described in heading 8511,
8512, 8540, 8541 or 8542." The HTSUS clearly indicates that
merchandise classifiable under heading 8541 takes precedence over
heading 8504 as evidenced by Legal Note 5 to chapter 85, which
provides in pertinent part:
For the purposes of headings 8541 and 8542:
(a) "Diodes, transistors and similar
semiconductor devices" are semiconductor devices the
operation of which depends on variations in resistivity
on the application of an electric field;
* * * * * *
For the classification of the articles defined in
this note, headings 8541 and 8542 shall take precedence
over any other heading in the tariff schedule which
might cover them by reference to, in particular, their
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the official interpretation of
the HTSUS. While not legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs
provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS
and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of
these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23,
1989). EN 85.41 states in pertinent part: "[d]iodes which are
two-terminal devices with a single p n junction; they allow
current to pass in one direction (forward) but offer a very high
resistance in the other (reverse). They are used for detection,
rectification, switching, etc. The main types of diodes are
signal diodes, power rectifier diodes, voltage regulator diodes,
voltage reference diodes."
In HQ 085540, dated December 18, 1989, Customs determined
that the BRDs did not satisfy the description of diodes within
the terms of heading 8541, HTSUS, because the BRD is composed of
four of these two terminal devices which pass current in two
directions. Customs further found that because the BRD are used
to transfer energy from alternating current to direct current, it
met the terms of heading 8504, HTSUS, which provides for static
converters. EN 85.04, which defines the scope of static
converters of heading 8504, HTSUS, states in pertinent part:
(II) ELECTRICAL STATIC CONVERTERS
The apparatus of this group are used to convert
electrical energy in order to adapt it for further use.
They incorporate converting elements (e.g., valves) of
different types. They may also incorporate various
auxiliary devices (e.g., transformers, induction coils,
resistors, command regulators, etc.). Their operation
is based on the principle that the converting elements
act alternately as conductors and non-conductors.
The fact that these apparatus often incorporate
auxiliary circuits to regulate the voltage of the
emerging current does not affect their classification
in this group, nor does the fact that they are
sometimes referred to as voltage or current regulators.
This group includes:
(A) Rectifiers by which alternating current
(single or polyphase) is converted to direct current,
generally accompanied by a voltage change.
* * * * * *
Electrical static converters may be divided into
the following principal categories according to the
type of converting element with which they are
(1) Semiconductor converters based on the one-way
conductivity between certain crystals. Such converters
consist of a semiconductor as the converting element
and various other devices (e.g., coolers, tape
conductors, drives, regulators, control circuits).
(a) Monocrystalline semiconductor rectifiers
using, as a converting element, a device
containing silicon or germanium crystals (diode,
(b) Polycrystalline semiconductor rectifiers
using a selenium disc.
In a request to reconsider HQ 085540, Customs recognized
that a BRD's individual diodes, if classified separately from
each other, may meet the Legal Note 5(A) to chapter 85 definition
for diodes and be classified under heading 8541, HTSUS. However,
the merchandise in its condition as imported, consisted of
assemblies which were designed to perform a principal function of
rectifying alternating current to direct current, a function
specifically described by another heading of the HTSUS.
Therefore, Customs concluded that the BRDs met the terms of
heading 8504, HTSUS, as static converters, and affirmed HQ
085540. (See HQ 086223, dated April 11, 1990.) Based upon these
rulings, the Area Director of Customs, New York Seaport, issued
NY 884870 on May 6, 1993, classifying your client's BRDs under
subheading 8504.40.00, HTSUS.
It has come to our attention that the classification of the
BRDs could fall within the terms of heading 8541, HTSUS, based
upon a recent decision by the Court of International Trade (CIT).
In ABB Power Transmission v. United States, 896 F.Supp. 1279, CIT
Slip Op. 95-141 (August 4, 1995), the CIT determined that a
thyristor module consisting of six thyristors connected in a
series, heatsinks, voltage divider circuits and electronic
"firing" circuitry mounted onto a frame, was classifiable under
heading 8541, HTSUS. Even though the thyristor module contained
significant components in addition to thyristors, the court found
that the function the module performs falls within the definition
of a thyristor as a similar semiconductor device.
Based upon Legal Notes 2 and 5 to chapter 85, HTSUS, and the
rationale in ABB Power Transmission, we find that the subject
BRDs, which are made up of individual diodes, are classifiable
under heading 8541, HTSUS, as other diodes. Because of the
decision in ABB Power Transmission we find that HQ 086223, HQ
085540, and NY 884870 must be revoked. HQ 086223, dated April
11, 1990, and HQ 085540, dated December 18, 1989, shall be
revoked by proposed HQ ruling 958726.
The BRDs are classifiable under subheading 8541.10.00,
HTSUS, which provides for: "[d]iodes, transistors and similar
semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices,
including photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules
or made up into panels . . . : [d]iodes, other than
photosensitive or light-emitting diodes. . . ." The general,
column one rate of duty is free.
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
NY 884870 dated May 6, 1993, is revoked. In accordance with
19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1), this ruling will become effective 60 days
after publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of
rulings or decisions pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1) does not
constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with
section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations [19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)].
John Durant, Director