CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 967397 DSS
Area Port Director
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Los Angeles International Airport
11099 South La Cienga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Re: Internal Advice 04/029; keyserts, keenserts and base metal wire inserts
Dear Port Director:
This is in response to your memorandum dated October 26, 2004, forwarding a request by LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, on behalf of Alcoa Global Fasteners, Inc. (AGF or importer), for internal advice on the classification of certain metal wire inserts, keyserts and keenserts under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). The Chief, Metals and Machinery Branch, National Commodity Specialist Division (NCSD), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) New York, forwarded your memorandum and an accompanying NCSD memorandum, dated December 1, 2004, to this Office. A steel wire insert and a keysert were also submitted and were returned to the importer, as requested.
The instant articles are described as stainless steel wire inserts, stainless and carbon steel keyserts, steel and stainless steel keenserts, and phosphor bronze wire inserts.
The stainless steel wire inserts are helically wound inserts that are manufactured from stainless steel wire cold rolled into a diamond-shaped cross-section. In their condition as imported, they are wound wire coils (and are similar in appearance to coiled springs). These inserts are used to repair stripped or damaged internal threads. The wire inserts serve to tightly secure a screw and prevent its threads from stripping. The inserts are typically wound by means of a special tool (such as a threaded mandrel or collar-type tool) into a specially tapped hole, which is smaller than the outside diameter of the insert. The wire inserts are elongated during installation and their outside diameters are compressed so that the inserts are secured in the parent machine. The inserts have a range of sizes and diameters and can be used with a variety of thread forms.
The phosphor bronze wire inserts are identical in appearance and function to the steel wire inserts, however, they contain 92 to 94 percent copper with the remaining elements consisting of tin, phosphorous, iron, lead, zinc, nickel, and certain impurities.
The stainless and carbon steel keyserts are solid, one-piece, threaded inserts in the shape of a cylinder, rather than helically-wound wire inserts. The keyserts are used in commercial applications to repair damaged threads to create a more secure threaded assembly, by providing strong permanent metal threads. Keyserts have four prongs on top, referred to as keys, which create a locking feature. The locking keys provide a positive mechanical lock, which prevents rotation due to vibration or torsion of the screws or bolts from being pulled out of the parent material. The keyserts are pounded into the parent material with a special tool, thereby locking the keyserts into the material.
The steel and stainless steel keenserts are similar to keyserts in that the keenserts are solid, one-piece internally threaded articles. The keenserts are used to repair and strengthen thread assemblies in commercial and millitary applications. The keenserts are capable of having a locking mechanism, although not all keenserts possess them. The keys are driven down into the tapped threads of the parent material during installation to securely lock the insert against rotation. The keenserts are designed to securely lock a bolt against rotation when it is entered into the insert.
The importer states that it was informally advised that the steel wire inserts are classified under subheading 7318.29.00, HTSUS, as “Screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron and steel: Non-treaded articles: Other.”
The importer seeks classification of the three types of steel articles under subheading 7326.90.85, HTSUS, as “Other articles of iron or steel: Other: Other: Other” (noting that that the steel wire inserts may be classifiable as other articles of steel wire, under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS) or, alternatively, under subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS, as “Screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron and steel: Threaded articles: Other.” The importer seeks classification of the bronze wire inserts under subheading 7419.99.50, HTSUS, which provides for “Other articles of copper: Other: Other: Other: Other,” or alternatively under subheading 7415.39.00, HTSUS, which provides for “Nails, tacks, drawing pins, staples (other than those of heading 8305) and similar articles, of copper or of iron or steel with heads of copper; screws, bolts, nuts, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of copper: Other threaded articles: Other.”
Whether the instant articles are classifiable as other articles similar to the enumerated iron or steel articles listed in heading 7318, HTSUS, or similar articles of copper, listed in heading 7415, HTSUS; whether any of the articles are “threaded” for tariff purposes.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
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 at the international level. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).
The HTSUSA provisions under consideration (2005) are as follows:
7318 Screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron and steel:
* * * *
Other articles of iron or steel:
Articles of iron or steel wire.
* * * *
7415 Nails, tacks, drawing pins, staples (other than those of heading 8305) and similar articles, of copper or of iron or steel with heads of copper; screws, bolts, nuts, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of copper:
Other articles, not threaded:
Other threaded articles:
* * * *
Other articles of copper:
The importer states that the inserts, keyserts and keenserts at issue serve to repair stripped or damaged internal threads and to create a stronger thread assembly in finished machines. The importer argues that the instant articles are not classified as any of the fasteners of headings 7318 or 7415, HTSUS. The importer also believes that the articles are not like the items that are named within headings 7318 or 7415, HTSUS.
The importer further argues that under the principle of ejusdem generis, the instant articles are not “of the same kind” as the articles of heading 7318 and 7415, HTSUS, nor do they share either the essential character or purposes of the articles named in headings 7318 or 7415, HTSUS, and, therefore, cannot be classified therein. See Avenues in Leather, Inc. v. United States, 178 F.3d 1241, 1244 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (citing Totes, Inc. v. United States, 69 F.3d 495, 498 (Fed. Cir. 1995)). The importer argues that screws, bolts and other fasteners function by fastening or assembling goods. The instant inserts, keyserts and keenserts, the importer argues, simply aid or enhance the functioning of a screw or fastener by strengthening or repairing its threads, and do not function similar to a screw, i.e., to fasten goods. The importer cites Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 965939, dated July 16, 2003, and HQ 965864, dated January 10, 2003, to support its claimed classification. In those rulings, the importer argues, CBP found that although the articles in question – pipe fitting nuts and worm drive screw connectors – resembled fasteners of heading 7318, HTSUS, they did not primarily function to fasten or assemble goods, and thus were not classifiable under heading 7318, HTSUS. The importer notes that the heading text and articles listed in heading 7415, HTSUS, for articles of copper, are similar to the text of heading 7318, HTSUS, therefore, its arguments apply equally to the bronze phosphor wire inserts.
The initial issue is whether the instant steel articles fall under heading 7318, HTSUS, and the bronze wire inserts fall under heading 7415, HTSUS. These headings provide examples of articles that are referred to or recognized as fasteners. Heading 7326, HTSUS, on the other hand, is a “basket” provision for other articles of iron or steel. Heading 7419, HTSUS, is a “basket” provision for other articles of copper. Classification in a “basket” provision is proper only when no other provision describes the merchandise more specifically. See, e.g., EM Industries, Inc. v. United States, 22 C.I.T. 156, 165, 999 F. Supp. 1473, 1480 (1998) ("'Basket' or residual provisions of HTSUS Headings. . . are intended as a broad catch-all to encompass the classification of articles for which there is no more specifically applicable subheading").
The text of heading 7318, HTSUS, lists screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, and washers of iron or steel. Heading 7415, HTSUS, lists similar articles of copper. These two headings also specifically provide for “similar articles” of the applicable base metals. All of these enumerated articles assemble or hold items together or in place, or assist in the function of joining or fastening items together, such as nuts or washers. Under the principle of ejusdem generis, similar articles that fall under headings 7318 or 7415, HTSUS, would also possess one or more of these characteristics or purposes.
This commonality is further reinforced by the definition provided in EN 73.18, which states in relevant part:
[A] Screws, Bolts, and Nuts
[b]olts and nuts (including bolt ends), screw studs and other screws for metal, whether or not threaded or tapped, screws for wood and coach-screws are threaded (in the finished state) and are used to assemble of fasten goods so that they can readily be disassembled without damage.
EN 74.15 states that EN 73.18 applies to it mutatis mutandis.
Moreover, the Industrial Fastener Institute, in the Seventh Edition of Inch Fastener Standards, has defined a fastener as:
[A] mechanical device designed specifically to hold, join, couple, assemble, or maintain equilibrium of single or multiple components. The resulting assembly may function dynamically or statically as a primary or secondary component of a mechanism or structure. Based on the application intended, a fastener receives varying degrees of built-in precision and engineering capability, ensuring adequate, sound service under planned, pre-established conditions.
Based upon the information provided, the inserts, keyserts, and keenserts at issue are fasteners similar to those listed in headings 7318 and 7415, HTSUS. Similar to such items as the nuts and washers listed in these two headings, the instant articles are used in conjunction with screws to strengthen the assembly of the larger items in which they are used by helping to hold the screws in place.
Unlike the articles of HQs 965864 and 965939, the instant articles’ sole function is to aid in the fastening of other articles by holding screws in place. In HQ 965939, the pipe fitting nuts were found to have a different design and function than nuts of heading 7318, HTSUS. In that ruling, CBP wrote:
The subject pipe fitting nuts are designed differently than common nuts. These pipe fitting nuts have an internal bearing surface ‘shoulder’ or ‘flange’ which would stop an article being threaded through it from emerging at the opposite end of the pipe fitting nut. This internal shoulder precludes the pipe fitting nut from being used with a bolt, screw or stud. The pipe fitting nut operates by placing a part which has an external shoulder inside the pipe fitting nut. The external shoulder of the internal part contacts the internal shoulder of the pipe fitting nut preventing the internal part from sliding all the way through the pipe fitting nut. A third component with external threads then goes over the internal part and screws into the pipe fitting nut which locks the internal and external shoulders, squeezing them together. Therefore, the clamping force of the pipe fitting nut is by the internal shoulder.
In HQ 965864, the worm drive screws, although physically resembling screws, did not fasten or assemble anything, but instead functioned to transmit motion. In this instance, however, the instant articles have no function other than fastening.
The importer argues that the instant articles are similar to the “Hollo Bolt Type HB” that was classified as an article of iron or steel under subheading 7326.90.8585 (now 7326.90.8587) HTSUSA, in NY B87888, dated July 28, 1997. The importer argues that, like the “Hollo Bolt,” the instant articles are properly classified as other articles if iron, steel or copper, under headings 7326 and 7418, HTSUS. The “Hollo” bolt is described as “[a]n insert which expands behind steelwork to form a flush threaded connection point.” However, three other NY rulings classified similar threaded inserts as fasteners. See NY 853636, dated June 26, 1990; NY D85513, dated December 8, 1998; and NY E86456, dated September 2, 1999.
Based on the description provided in the ruling, it appears that the “Hollo” bolt functions similarly to the instant articles, in that it aids in securing the screws in place by providing a threaded connection point. In fact, the “Hollo” bolt shares a common purpose with the articles listed in heading 7318, HTSUS, (i.e., fastening) and under the principle of ejusdem generis, the “Hollo” bolt is classified under heading 7318, HTSUS. Therefore, we intend to modify NY B87888 to reflect classification of the “Hollo” bolt under subheading 7318.19.0000, HTSUSA.
With regard to the instant articles, because of their function and design, the instant steel wire inserts, keyserts, and keenserts fall under heading 7318, HTSUS; the instant bronze wire inserts fall under heading 7415, HTSUS.
The next issue is to consider if the articles are threaded. The term “threaded” is not defined in the HTSUS. When terms are not so defined, they are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meaning. See Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. See C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982).
The American National Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ANSI/ASME) defines “threading” as a “ridge of uniform section in the form of a helix” in ANSI/ASME Standard B18. Use of the ANSI/ASME standard in fastener classification was sanctioned by the court in Rocknel Fastener, Inc. v. United States, 267 F.3d 1354, 1361 (Fed. Cir. 2001). Moreover, Webster’s Dictionary defines “threading” in relevant part as a “helical or spiral ridge on a screw, nut or bolt.” The Seventh Edition of the Inch Fastener Standards cited above states that a screw “thread” is “a ridge of uniform section in the form of a helix on the external or internal surface of a cylinder.” Thus, the threads can be on either the internal or external surface of an article. Based on the information provided, the solid piece keyserts and keenserts are considered internally threaded because they possess an internal spiral ridge of uniform section in the form of a helix. Thus, the steel keyserts and keenserts are classified as threaded articles under subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS.
The steel and bronze inserts are helically wound wire, not solid, therefore the spirals are not considered threaded according to these definitions. Thus, the steel wire inserts are classified as non-threaded articles under subheading 7318.29.00, HTSUS; the bronze wire inserts are classified as non-threaded articles under subheading 7415.29.00, HTSUS.
At GRI 1, the instant steel keyserts and keenserts are classified under subheading 7318.19.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for " Screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron and steel: Threaded articles: Other." The 2005 column one, general rate of duty is 5.7 percent ad valorem.
The steel wire inserts are classified under subheading 7318.29.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for “Screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron and steel: Non-threaded articles: Other.” The 2005 column one, general rate of duty is 2.8 percent ad valorem.
The phosphor bronze wire inserts are classified under subheading 7415.29.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for “Nails, tacks, drawing pins, staples (other than those of heading 8305) and similar articles, of copper or of iron or steel with heads of copper; screws, bolts, nuts, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of copper: Other articles: Not Threaded: Other.” The 2005 column one, general rate of duty is 3 percent ad valorem.
Duty rates are provided for convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the Internet at www.usitc.gov/tata/hts.
This decision should be mailed by your office to the internal advice requestor no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the Customs and Border Protection 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