CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 967146 DSS
TARIFF NO: 9607.20.0080
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1 East Bay Street
Savannah, GA 31401
Attn: Protest Section
RE: Further Review of Protest No. 1703-04-100157; Steel “spring” lock pins for zipper sliders
Dear Port Director:
This is our decision on Protest No. 1703-04-100157 filed by YKK (USA) Inc. (protestant), against your decision regarding the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of certain “steel” spring lock pins.
The articles under protest consist of slider “spring” lock pins for zippers. Sliders are a part of zippers, which also include tape (fabric) and elements (teeth). The tape and element make up the zipper chain. Sliders are comprised of three main elements: the body, the pull tab, and the “spring” lock pin. The “spring” lock pin secures the pull tab to the body portion of the slider, functioning as a tab holder and locking mechanism.
This particular type of “spring” lock pin is used in “semi-automatic” locking sliders in order to lock the slider in place in order to secure the position of the slider on the zipper chain. If the tab is horizontal to the slider, there is a small pin that is permitted to protrude into the elements along the chain of the zipper, locking the slider in place. Upon lifting the tab into a perpendicular position, this small pin is lifted because of the shape of the tab, enabling the slider to move freely.
At liquidation, the port classified the four entries under protest under subheading 9607.20.00, HTSUS, as parts of slide fasteners. The protestant advocates classification of the spring lock pins under subheading 7320.90.50, HTSUS, as springs.
The subject merchandise was entered between December 27, 2002, and June 2, 2003. The subject entries were liquidated on January 30, 2004, and March 19, 2004. The protest was filed on March 29, 2004.
Counsel for the protestant makes the following arguments in support of its proposed classification under heading 7320, HTSUS: a spring lock pin functions similar to a coiled spring in that it springs into its previous form after being bent; when deformed a portion of the pin is pulled away from the chain, which allows the slider to move up and down the chain; when the user closes the pull on the slider, the pin returns to its previous form and locks the slider in place; the lock pin is akin, by function, to a spring provided for in heading 7320; the provision for springs covers a commodity eo nomine, by name, and an unlimited eo nomine designation will include all forms of the named article; and, as the spring lock pin is provided for in heading 7320, it is excluded from heading 9607 by Chapter 96, Note 1(d), HTSUS.
Counsel for the protestant made these arguments in a memorandum of law attached to its Application for Further Review of the protest, in a December 6, 2004 supplemental submission and in a meeting on April 13, 2005.
Whether the steel “spring” lock pins are classified as springs under heading 7320, HTSUS.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Initially, we note that the protest was timely filed (i.e., within 90 days after but not before the notice of liquidation; see 19 U.S.C. 1514 (c)(3)(A)) and the matter is protestable (see 19 U.S.C. 1514 (a)(2) and (5)).
Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.
The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the Harmonized System. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 8980, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).
The HTSUS provisions (2002/2003) under consideration are as follows:
Springs and leaves for springs, of iron or steel:
* * * * * * * * *
Slide fasteners and parts thereof:
* * * * * * * * *
First, parts of general use of base metal are excluded from classification in Chapter 96. See Note 1(d) to Chapter 96 (stating that Chapter 96 does not include parts of general use of base metal, as defined in Section XV, Note 2). Section XV, Note 2 defines a part of general use, in relevant part, as, “[S]prings and leaves for springs, of base metal, other than clock or watch springs (heading 9114); . . . .” So, if the instant articles are classified as springs of base metal they cannot be classified in heading 9607, HTSUS.
In an April 13, 2005 meeting, counsel for the protestant and several employees of the protestant made a presentation to this Office about the functioning of the lock pins. They also argued that the lock pins function similarly to other articles that CBP has classified as springs under heading 7320, HTSUS, in three rulings: New York Ruling Letter (NY) H88183, dated February 27, 2002; NY F86235, dated April 28, 2000; and NY J85598, dated June 19, 2003.
Heading 7320, HTSUS, describes an article or class of articles eo nomine, by name, springs and leaves for springs, of iron or steel. In the absence of contrary legislative intent, judicial decision, or administrative practice, an unlimited eo nomine designation will include all forms of the named article. However, in determining whether an article is embraced within an eo nomine designation, its use may be considered in order to establish its identity. See United States v. Quon Quon Company, 46 CCPA 70, CAD 699 (1959), and related cases.
EN 73.20 states:
The heading covers iron or steel springs of all types, irrespective of their use, other than clock or watch springs of heading 91.14.
Springs are made from sheet metal, wire or rod of an elastic quality, in such a way that they have the property of returning to their original form even after considerable displacement.
Throughout its submissions, the protestant claims that, essentially, springs are commonly defined as pieces of metal which deform and return to their original shape. See Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology and Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. The protestant claims the instant “spring” lock pins thus fall under heading 7320, HTSUS.
In NY H88183, CBP classified various articles related to seat adjusting mechanisms used in motor vehicles. One item was classified as a spring under subheading 7320.90.50, HTSUS, and was described in the following manner:
The third item, “SPRING”, is a steel spring in the form of a strait (sic) rod with one end hooked 180 degrees back towards the middle, and the other end bent at a 90 degree angle. The Spring is installed on the Pipe Comp. The 180 degree hooked end is inserted into the welded flange on the Pipe Comp. The other end of the Spring is inserted through two pre-drilled holes in the Pipe Comp. The protruding end of the spring is then bent back to secure it in place in the Pipe Comp. The spring functions in the Full Seat Device as a spring to apply upward force on the seat bottom to assist the height adjust electric motor when activated. As the Pipe Comp rotates, it builds a load on the Spring to push upward, and thus assist the power of the electric motor. You state that the Spring is specifically designed for and used solely with automobile seats, and cannot be used in any other application.
In NY F86235, CBP classified a motor vehicle “Clutch Pedal Power Spring” as a spring under subheading 7320.20.50, HTSUS. In the ruling, CBP stated:
You have described your Clutch Pedal Power Spring sample as an assembly consisting of a steel spring, 3mm in diameter, encased in a plastic housing that has two flanges on either side. The top of the housing is open. The spring is compressed in the housing by a steel and plastic shaft that runs through the middle of the spring. The shaft is secured on the closed side of the housing with a cotter pin. On the opposite side of the shaft is a steel pin and circlip. The purpose of the clutch power spring is to assist the clutch pedal movement on both the inward and outward motion of the clutch pedal. The spring attaches to the pedal via the steel pin and circlip. The spring housing is supported to a strut via bushings. At rest, the spring is in its current condition. When the clutch pedal is applied, the spring compresses creating resistance. At pedal midpoint, the spring expands, releasing the tension all the way to full application. When the pedal is retracted, the reverse sequence happens. . . .
In NY J85598, CBP classified certain stainless steel clarinet flat springs under subheading 7320.90.50, HTSUS. The clarinet flat springs were described as:
Clarinet flat springs part number M1994000 - are specially designed flat, curved metal pieces. They are not made of wire. They force the key back in place after it is depressed and released.
These three articles primarily function by bending as a result of the application of force and returning to their original position. These articles meet the definition of springs and were classified under heading 7320, HTSUS.
In contrast to the articles classified as springs in the above-cited rulings, the instant steel lock pins primarily function to hold the pull tab in place, not to bend back and forth. This particular type of “spring” lock pin is specifically designed to fit into the front of the body of the slider and intended for use as a part of the slider, and is not able to perform a springing function with any other item. Indeed, without this specially designed part the tab would not be secured to the body of the slider. In classifying by name, however, the article must have the salient characteristics of the named article. In Clipper Belt Lacer, Co., Inc. v. United States, 14 CIT 146, 153 (1990), the Court of International Trade stated that “[I]t is not enough that an article be called a tariff term in the trade vernacular. There must be a showing that the article embodies the salient characteristics of the tariff term claimed.”
The instant “spring” lock pins do not embody the salient characteristic of the tariff term. While the part has the ability to return to its original position after being displaced this is not its primary function or purpose. Its primary function is to secure the pull tab in place. Its secondary function is to lock the zipper in place. Therefore, the “spring” lock pins are not classifiable as springs and do not fall under heading 7320, HTSUS.
In determining whether articles such as the subject merchandise are considered parts, it is a well-established rule that a part of an article is something necessary to the completion of that article. It is an integral, constituent, or component part, without which the article to which it is to be joined, could not function as such article. United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc., 21 CCPA 322, 324, T.D. 46,851 (1933), cert denied, 292 U.S. 640 (1934). The rule set out in Willoughby Camera has been modified over the years so that a device may be a part of an article even though the device is not necessary to the operation of the article, provided that once the device is installed the article cannot function properly without it. To meet this test, the device must be dedicated for use upon the article. See Beacon Cycle, 81 Cust. Ct. 46, 50-51, C.D. 4764 (1978).
Clearly, the instant “spring” lock pins are classified as parts of slider fasteners. They are designed specifically for zipper sliders and are necessary for securing the pull tab to the body of the slider. Based on the information presented, it is clear that the “spring” lock pins are dedicated for use solely as parts of zipper sliders and are classified under heading 9607, HTSUS.
The instant steel “spring” lock pins are classified in subheading 9607.20.0080, HTSUSA, which provides for “Slide fasteners and parts thereof: Parts: Other.” The 2002/03 column one, general rate of duty is 11.5 percent ad valorem. Duty rates are provided for convenience only and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov/tata/hts.
You should DENY the protest. In accordance with the Protest/Petition Processing Handbook (CIS HB, June 2002, pp. 18 and 21), you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the CBP Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.cbp.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division