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HQ 082216

October 5, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082216 SLR


TARIFF NO.: 9504.90.6000

Ronald W. Gerdes, Esq.
Sandler & Travis, P.A.
1120 Nineteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Novelty Item

Dear Mr. Gerdes:

This ruling is in response to your letter of April 28, 1988, on behalf of your client, Horizon Leisure Products of Vancouver, Canada, requesting the proper classification of a novelty product entitled "The President" under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample produced in Taiwan was forwarded for our examination.


The submitted sample consists of:

(1) a knit garment (called a "game shirt"); (2) one set of printed rules;
(3) two sets of vote cards, one set marked "100 votes" and the other set marked "500 votes";
(4) one set of cards marked "miss one turn"; (5) one plastic die; and
(6) six felt playing pieces.

The "game shirt" is a short-sleeve, crew neck, one-size fits all pullover shirt made of 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton. The garment features a large, non-detachable free- hanging pocket, located on the left side of the chest, which is secured by a button closure. The pocket converts into a pouch which can be used to carry and/or store the garment along with the game pieces. A fabric loop, sewn to the top of the pocket, facilitates the carrying of the garment and the game pieces when the pocket is utilized as a pouch. A screen-printed logo is located on the outer surface of the pocket. The shirt also features a large, circular, screen-printed logo on the back which is said to constitute the actual playing surface of the game. The game can be played with or without the "game shirt" being worn on the body.

The instant product is duly registered with both the United States and Canadian copyright offices. It is marketed as a game and sold exclusively to game retailers.

On June 18, 1987, our New York office issued a ruling (New York Ruling Letter 823580) classifying the "game shirt" and game pieces separately under the Tariff Schedule of the United States (TSUS) as follows: the shirt under item 381.0240, TSUS, other men's or boys' wearing apparel (or, if unisex, item 384.0231, other women's or girls' wearing apparel) and the game pieces under item 734.1500, TSUS, for games played on boards of special design and parts thereof. This ruling also included an advisory opinion as to the proper classification of the subject product under the Harmonized System. Here, too, New York classified the "game shirt" and game pieces separately under subheadings corresponding to the above-mentioned TSUS provisions.

In your letter, you maintain that the "game shirt" and accompanying game pieces should be considered one product classifiable as a game under both the TSUS and HTSUSA.


What is the proper classification of the subject novelty product under the HTSUSA?


On January 1, 1989, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States replaced the TSUS as the nation's import code. Accordingly, our office responds only to HTSUSA classification requests. (See 19 CFR Part 174 for guidelines concerning the proper filing of TSUS protests.)

Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), taken in order. Heading 6109 provides for T-shirts ... knitted or crocheted. Heading 9504 provides for articles for arcade, table or parlor games ... parts and accessories thereof. No single heading describes the product in issue.

GRI 2(a) refers to incomplete or unassembled articles, and so does not apply to this case. Likewise, GRI 2(b) is inapplicable since that provision governs the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance.

GRI 3 provides for goods that are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings. Since the "game shirt" is classifiable under one heading and the game pieces under another, GRI 3 is germane to our analysis.

GRI 3(a) provides that when two or more headings are under
consideration, the one providing the most specific description of the merchandise in preferred. All headings are regarded as equally specific, however, when each refers to part only of the goods. Each of the headings, 6109 and 9504, refers to only part of the subject merchandise. Therefore, the headings are regarded as equally specific, and the classification of the "game shirt" and the game pieces cannot be determined by application of the doctrine of relative specificity.

GRI 3(b) provides that composite goods made up of different components which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) shall be classified as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. In general, "essential character" has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish the article.

In this case, the essential character of this novelty item is not readily apparent. It is our belief that the essential character of the product is not distinguished by either the game play activity or by the shirt function; the two are mutually complementary. Taken by themselves, the game pieces are useless without the shirt which acts as a game board, and correspondingly, the shirt cannot be used for its intended purpose as part of a play activity without the necessary game pieces. Neither the "game shirt" nor the game pieces, therefore, imparts the essential character of the product in issue.

When the component which gives the product its essential character cannot be determined, classification is ascertained by way of GRI 3(c). If classified separately, the game surface with game pieces would fall under the provision for ... other games played on boards of special design ... poker chips and dice, in subheading 9504.90.6000. The shirt would be classified under the provision for T-shirts ... and similar garments, knitted or crocheted ... of man-made fibers, in subheading 6109.90.1080 Applying GRI 3(c), the merchandise is classifiable under subheading 9504.90.6000 since it occurs last in numerical order of the two competing subheadings.


The product in issue is classifiable under 9504.90.6000 HTSUSA, which provides for articles for arcade, table or parlor games ... other games played on boards of special design ... poker chips and dice. The rate of duty is 4.64 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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