Mr. John Peterson
Neville Peterson LLP
17 State Street 19th Floor
New York, NY 10004
RE: Country of Origin Marking of Certain Imported Toy Building Blocks
Dear Mr. Peterson:
This is in response to your letter dated October 24, 2010, on behalf of MEGA Brands, requesting the proper country of origin marking on certain imported toy building blocks with other toys sold under the MEGA BLOKS brand. In particular, you are requesting whether the items are subject to the marking requirements of 19 C.F.R. 134.46 when a certain panel of the packaging contains the European Union CE conformity mark along with MEGA Brands Europe and the company's Belgium address. Photographs of the item's retail packaging displaying the marking in question were submitted with your letter. The item consists of two individual sets, an 11 and 40 piece set, which are shrink-wrapped together for retail sale. This sample's marking is representative of your clients other products as well.
A different panel on each product shows them being marked Components Made in Canada and China, which would be an acceptable country of origin marking as long as each set will contain pieces originating from both countries listed on the retail packaging.
The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article.
Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain.
Section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46), deals with cases in which the words United States, or American, the letters U.S.A., any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced, appears on an imported article or its container, and those words, letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin. In such a case, there shall appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to such words, letters, or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by Made in, Product of, or other words of similar meaning.
In order to satisfy the close proximity requirement, the country of origin marking must generally appear on the same side(s) or surface(s) in which the name or locality other than the actual country of origin appears. There is no country of origin marking on the panel in question.
You state that the European Union CE conformity mark and MEGA Brand's Belgium address, prefaced by MEGA Brands Europe, should not trigger or violate 19 C.F.R. 134.46 as the CE mark is an indicator of consumer safety certification, with the Belgium address displayed only to invite contact from consumers concerning the product's conformity to applicable European safety certifications and product quality.
You also cite several apparel rulings (HQ 560610, HQ 732816 and HQ 561610) in which CBP has found the mere presence of a geographical location does not necessarily trigger 19 C.F.R. 134.46, particularly in instances in which various U.S. addresses were displayed for the purposes of facilitating consumer contact regarding a guarantee or warranty. Furthermore, you state that the CE marking would not mislead or deceive consumers as the CE marking does not indicate the country of origin but is a certification that is recognized in 31 countries.
This office finds the circumstances of this ruling to be distinguishable from those that you cited. In the various Headquarters rulings cited, the displaying of the U.S. addresses was not found to be misleading. In each case CBP determined that it would appear clear to the consumer that the locality information and telephone numbers to contact the company would not connote origin and therefore, would not deceive or mislead the purchaser. That is not the case in the instant ruling.
While you describe in detail the purpose of the CE mark in Europe, its purpose and function would not be apparent to a consumer in the U.S. The references to Europe and Belgium are preceded by the phrase Keep this information. A U.S. consumer would not conclude the stated purpose and function of the foreign references based on this wording. The CE mark with MEGA Brand's Belgium address and the reference to Europe may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser in the United States as to the actual country of origin of the item. Therefore, we find that the special marking requirements of 19 CFR 134.46 are triggered.
The phrase Components Made in Canada and China should appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity and in at least a comparable size to the Belgium address and the reference to Europe in order to satisfy the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist James Forkan at (646) 733-3025.
Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division