July 12, 1999
CLA2 RR:CR:GC 962366 AML
TARIFF NOS.: 8302.50.00; 8305.10.00
Mr. Gordon C. Anderson C.H. Robinson International 5995 Opus Parkway Minnetonka, MN 55343-9058
RE: Reconsideration of NY C88471; Base metal racks and clamps for storage and filing.
Dear Mr. Anderson:
In a letter dated October 21, 1998, you requested, on behalf of Safeco Products Co., a subsidiary of Liberty Diversified Industries, reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) C88471, issued to you on June 18, 1998, concerning the classification of metal parts of filing systems designed for storage of oversized paper documents, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Samples, brochures and literature were submitted for our review.
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, 2186), notice of the proposed revocation of NY C88471 was published on May 26, 1999, in the CUSTOMS BULLETIN, Volume 33, Number 21. One comment was received in response to this notice.
The subject articles, which are parts of filing systems used to file and store oversized paper documents such as blueprints, drawings and plans produced and used by architects, engineers, draftspersons and contractors, are described as follows:
Item # 5030, a “Drop Lift Wall Rack,” consists of two triangular, metal brackets which form right angles and measure 7 3/4 inches by 11 1/8 inches. The face of the 7 3/4 inch portion is 1 1/2 inches wide and has prefabricated screw holes for affixing the bracket to a wall. The 11 1/8 inch long portion is 7/16 of an inch wide and is prefabricated with a stop tab and plastic end cap fitting on the end furthest from section which affixes to the wall. The brackets are used in a “Vertical Wall Hanging System.” The brackets are designed to be affixed to the wall and spaced dependent upon the size of “Vertical Hanging Clamps” to be used with the brackets. The clamps hold the sheets and rest upon the brackets. The brackets will accommodate up to 12 clamps and sheets.
Item # 5016, a “Pivot Wall Rack,” consists of a metal rack designed to be affixed to a wall and hold 12 pivoting, metal brackets. The metal base measures 24 inches by 9 9/16 inches and is 1 inch in depth. The pivoting brackets are triangular in shape and measure 14 x 16 x 8 with metals tips prefabricated to fit within prefabricated holes in the metal bracket. This item functions similarly to item # 5030 above, except this item has the pivot feature. The brackets will accommodate up to 12 clamps and sheets.
Item # 5010, is a bracket which is identical to item # 5016, above, except that item # 5010 holds “data files” (item # 5028).
Item # 5001-6, a “Vertical Hanging Clamp,” is an aluminum clamp with plastic wing knobs, molded plastic hangers/end caps, and a snap on plastic label holder. The clamps vary in manufactured length from 18 to 42 inches and hold up to 100 individual sheets. The wing nuts tighten and loosen the clamps, as desired. The plastic end caps are designed to hold the clamps in place on any of the wall racks or filing systems produced by the manufacturer.
Item # 4303-6, a “Print-Lock Hanging Clamp,” is a sturdier version of item # 5001-6, with heavier grade wing knobs made of chrome-plated alloy, and a variable tension mounting clip which is also constructed of metal. The clamps vary in manufactured length from 18 to 42 inches and hold up to 100 individual sheets. The end caps are designed to hold the clamps in place on any of the wall racks or filing systems produced by the manufacturer.
The individual groups of articles are separately imported, packaged and itemized, such that, for example, racks are imported in one shipment and the clamps are imported in another shipment.
Whether the metal parts (racks and clamps) of filing systems designed for filing and storage of oversized paper documents are classifiable within subheading 8302.50.00, HTSUS, which provides for mountings, fittings and similar articles of base metal; subheading 8304.00.00, HTSUS, which provides for desktop filing or cardindex cabinets . . . and similar office or desk equipment . . . of base metal, other than office furniture of heading 9403; subheading 8305.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for fittings for looseleaf binders or files of base metal; subheading 8305.90.60, HTSUS, which provides for other fittings for files, letter clips, paper clips and similar articles of base metal; or subheading 9403.10.00, HTSUS, which provides for other furniture of metal of a kind used in offices.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of imported merchandise is accomplished pursuant to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Classification under the HTSUS is guided by the General Rules of Interpretation of the Harmonized System (GRIs). GRI 1, HTSUS, states in part that “for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes[.]”
The subheadings under consideration are as follows:
8302 Base metal mountings, fittings and similar articles suitable for furniture, doors, staircases, windows, blinds, coachwork, saddlery, trunks, chests, caskets or the like; base metal hat racks, hat pegs, brackets and similar fixtures; castors with mountings of base metal; automatic door closers of base metal; and base metal parts thereof:
8302.50.00 Hatracks, hat pegs, brackets and similar fixtures, and parts thereof.
* * * * * * * * ** * * *
8304.00.00 Desktop filing or cardindex cabinets, paper trays, paper rests, pen trays, officestamp stands and similar office or desk equipment and parts thereof, of base metal, other than office furniture of heading 9403.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
8305 Fittings for looseleaf binders or files, letter clips, letter corners, paper clips, indexing tags and similar office articles, and parts thereof, of base metal; staples in strips (for example, for offices, upholstery, packaging), of base metal:
8305.10.00 Fittings for looseleaf binders or files:
8305.90 Other, including parts:
* * * * * * * * * * * *
9403 Other furniture and parts thereof:
9403.10.00 Metal furniture of a kind used in offices.
When interpreting and implementing the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System may be utilized. The ENs, while neither legally binding nor dispositive, provide a guiding commentary on the scope of each heading, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See, T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).
EN 83.04, p. 1215 states:
The heading covers filing cabinets, cardindex cabinets, sorting boxes and similar office equipment used for the storage, filing or sorting of correspondence, index cards or other papers, provided the equipment is not designed to stand on the floor or is not otherwise covered by Note 2 to Chapter 94 (heading 94.03) (see the General Explanatory Note to Chapter 94). The heading also includes paper trays for sorting documents, paper rests for typists, desk racks and shelving, and desk equipment (such as bookends, paperweights, inkstands and inkpots, pen trays, officestamp stands and blotters).
Recently, the U.S. Court of International Trade reiterated that “[i]t is well established that an imported article is to be classified according to its condition as imported . . . .” XTC Products, Inc. v. United States, 15 CIT 348, 352, 771 F.Supp. 401, 405 (1991). See also, United States v. Citroen, 223 U.S. 407 (1911). In their imported condition, the individual parts of base metal which, when mounted and used in tandem, comprise the filing systems, do not constitute desk equipment. The parts, constructed of base metal, are entered separately, such that upon entry, what is received is a crate of brackets, wall hangers, or other parts of base metal. As such, the articles are not classifiable as desk equipment.
Section XV, Note 2, states, in pertinent part, that:
2. Throughout the tariff schedule, the expression “parts of general use” means:
(a) Articles of heading 7307, 7312, 7315, 7317 or 7318 and similar articles of other base metals;
(b) Springs and leaves for springs, of base metal, other than clock or watch springs (heading 9114); and
(c) Articles of heading 8301, 8302, 8308 or 8310 and frames and mirrors, of base metal, of heading 8306.
Heading 8302 provides for base metal mountings, fittings and similar articles . . . base metal hat-racks, hat-pegs, brackets and similar fixtures[.] EN 83.02 provides, in pertinent part, that:
[t]his heading covers general purpose classes of base metal accessory fittings and mountings, such as are largely used on furniture, doors, windows, coachwork, etc. ... The heading does not, however, extend to goods forming an essential part of the structure of the article, such as window frames or swivel devices for revolving chairs [emphasis in original].
This heading covers:
* * * * * * * * * * *
(G) Hat-racks, hat-pegs, brackets (fixed, hinged, or toothed, etc.) and similar fixtures such as coat racks, towel racks, dish-cloth racks, brush racks, key racks [emphasis in original].
The metal racks are ejusdem generis with the above exemplars (see Sports Graphics, Inc. v. United States, 24 F. 3d 1390, 1392 (Fed. Cir. 1994)), “[a]s applicable to classification cases, ejusdem generis requires that the imported merchandise possess the essential characteristics or purposes that unite the articles enumerated eo nomine in order to be classified under the general terms”). The essential characteristic or purpose of the above-listed exemplars is that they are racks used to hang and store things, such as coats, towels, dish cloths, brushes and keys. The metals racks at issue share this essential characteristic or purpose.
Accordingly, the metal racks are classifiable in heading 8302, HTSUS, as brackets and similar fixtures of base metal in subheading 8302.50.00, HTSUS. Pursuant to Section XV, Note 2(c), above, they are parts of general use. Because Note 1(d), Chapter 94, provides that Chapter 94 does not include parts of general use as defined in section XV, Note 2, the metal racks may not be classified in heading 9403, HTSUS. However, insofar as classification in heading 9403 is concerned, we also note that Chapter 94, Note 2, provides that to be classified within this heading, an article must be designed for placing on the floor or ground, unless the articles are “[c]upboards, bookcases or other shelved furniture and unit furniture” or “[s]eats and beds” which are “designed to be hung, to be fixed to the wall or to stand one on the other.” The subject articles do not satisfy this criteria. The articles cannot be considered to be furniture; they are blueprint filing devices designed to be permanently fixed to a wall. The intended use is to organize blueprints and other large documents; not to furnish an office. Accordingly, classification in heading 9403, HTSUS, is precluded.
The metal clamps, item #’s 5001-6 and 4303-6, are ejusdem generis (see above) with the articles of heading 8305, HTSUS. Heading 8305 includes fittings for binders or files, letter clips, paper clips, and similar articles of base metal (emphasis added).
EN 8305, p. 1215, states, in pertinent part, that:
[t]his heading covers base metal fittings of the clip, cord, spring lever, ring, screw, etc., types, for looseleaf binders or box files. It further includes protecting rings, bands and corners for ledgers or other stationery books; also office stationery in metal of the type used in fastening together or indexmarking papers (e.g., letter clips, paper clips, paper fasteners, letter corners, card indexing tags, file tags, spike files); staples in strips of the kind used in stapling machines, in offices, for upholstery, for packaging, etc.
The heading excludes:
(a) Drawing pins (e.g., heading 73.17 or 74.15).
(b) Clasps and fasteners for books, ledgers, etc. (heading 83.01 or 83.08).
The essential characteristics of the above examples is that they are of metal and by some method hold, clip or fasten papers. The metal clamps at issue share these essential characteristics or purposes, as they hold up to 100 blueprint sized papers. Therefore, the metal clamps are classifiable in heading 8305, HTSUS.
The comment received in response to the May 26, 1999, CUSTOMS BULLETIN notice proposing to revoke NY C88471 contends that the metal clamps are parts of furniture of heading 9403, HTSUS, or, alternatively, if classifiable in heading 8305, HTSUS, they are properly classifiable in subheading 8305.10.00, HTSUS, instead of subheading 8305.90.60, HTSUS, as proposed. The first part of this comment is addressed above (see discussion of “parts of general use” as defined in Note 2, Section XV, HTSUS, and exclusion, in Note 1(d), Chapter 94, HTSUS, from Chapter 94 of such parts of general use). However, the proposed alternative classification within heading 8305 has merit. That is, subheading 8305.90.60, HTSUS, is a so-called “basket” provision and, classification in such a provision “is appropriate only where there is no tariff category that covers the merchandise more specifically” (Apex Universal, Inc. v. United States, CIT Slip Op. 98-69 (May 21, 1998)). Subheading 8305.10.00, HTSUS, providing for fittings for looseleaf binders or files, does, under the principles of ejusdem generis (see above), cover the metal clamps more specifically than subheading 8305.90.60, HTSUS. They are classified in subheading 8305.10.00, HTSUS, as fittings for looseleaf binders or files of base metal.
The metal racks for storage and filing of oversized paper documents are classifiable within subheading 8302.50.00, HTSUS, which provides for base metal hat-racks, hat pegs, brackets and similar fixtures, and parts thereof.
The metal clamps for oversized paper documents are classifiable within subheading 8305.10.00, HTSUS, as base metal fittings for loose leaf binders or files.
NY C88471, dated June 18, 1998, is revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. §1625(c)(1), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.
John Durant, Director Commercial Rulings Division