Kelley Drye & Warren
3050 K Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20007
RE: The country of origin and marking of microcontrollers
Dear Ms. McCadney:
In your letter dated December 18, 2020, you requested a country of origin and marking ruling on behalf of your client, Infineon Technologies Americas Corp.
The items concerned are referred to as IFX Security Microcontrollers with Embedded Flash in 65/40 nm Technology Node ("Security Microcontrollers") which are manufactured by Infineon Technologies Americas Corp.
The production process for theses Security Microcontrollers is divided into three basic phases, the front-end production process, which occurs in Singapore or Taiwan, the interim process that takes place in Germany or Portugal, and the back-end packaging process, which occurs in China.
The front-end process determines all inherent electrical performance parameters of the Security Microcontrollers. This process begins with raw wafers or substrates and ends with structured wafers
(including basic firmware) prepared for packaging.
The front-end manufacturing process that takes place within Singapore or Taiwan consist of the following:
. Layer deposition.
. Lithography process.
. Ion implantation.
. Resist removal and cleaning.
. Thermal processing.
. Defect Inspection.
. Chemical mechanical polishing.
. Testing and Flashing.
Next the wafers are shipped to Germany or Portugal for interim processing. This consists of a pre-assembly process where a photoimide layer is processed and a low-k dielectric material is removed. Next, a "bump" is applied directly on the chip pads, or a redistribution layer (RDL) is applied on the wafer surface. Finally, the wafers are diced and thinned before they are shipped to Infineon's back-end site in China for packaging.
In China, Infineon attaches the chips to either copper foil tape using a glue based flip chip assembly process and optional encapsulation or a copper leadframe using a die bond and wire bond as well as encapsulation process, and performs final electric tests. The packaging both protects the chips from environmental exposure, and creates a standard interface for utilization of the chip in standard end-use infrastructure.
A complete manufacturing process description and explanation has been provided.
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.
The "country of origin" is defined in 19 CFR 134.1(b) as "the country of manufacture, production, or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the United States. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the 'country of origin' within the meaning of this part."
For tariff purposes, the courts have held that a substantial transformation occurs when an article emerges from a process with a new name, character or use different from that possessed by the article prior to processing. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 CCPA 267, C.A.D. 98 (1940); National Hand Tool Corp. v. United States, 16 CIT 308 (1992), aff'd, 989 F. 2d 1201 (Fed. Cir. 1993); Anheuser Busch Brewing Association v. The United States, 207 U.S. 556 (1908) and Uniroyal Inc. v. United States, 542 F. Supp. 1026 (1982).
However, if the manufacturing or combining process is merely a minor one that leaves the identity of the article intact, a substantial transformation has not occurred. Uniroyal, Inc. v. United States, 3 CIT 220, 542 F. Supp. 1026, 1029 (1982), aff'd, 702 F.2d 1022 (Fed. Cir. 1983). Substantial transformation determinations are based on the totality of the evidence. See Headquarters Ruling (HQ) W968434, date January 17, 2007, citing Ferrostaal Metals Corp. v. United States, 11 CIT 470, 478, 664 F. Supp. 535, 541 (1987).
Based upon the facts presented, it is the opinion of this office that the front-end manufacturing processes that take place within Taiwan or Singapore imparts the essential character to the Security Microcontrollers. The wafers, (which contain the die incorporating the complete Security Microcontrollers circuitry) manufactured within Taiwan or Singapore do not undergo a substantial transformation as a result of the manufacturing process that takes place in Germany, Portugal or China. They retain their identity as Security Microcontrollers with a predetermined end use. Therefore, since a substantial transformation does not occur as a result of the German, Portuguese or Chinese manufacturing/assembly process, the country of origin of the finished Infineon Security Microcontrollers will be the country where the front-end processing occurs. For origin and marking purposes the country of origin of the Infineon Security Microcontrollers will be Taiwan or Singapore at time of importation into the United States.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 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 Steven Pollichino at email@example.com.
Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division