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HQ 086630

July 3, 1990
CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086630 SLR


TARIFF NO.: 7117.90.5000

Joel K. Simon, Esq.
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center
Suite 3371
New York, NY 10048

RE: Lite-Up Buttons

Dear Mr. Simon:

This ruling is in response to your letter of March 1, 1990, on behalf of your client, Russ Berrie and Company, Inc., requesting the proper classification of various lite-up buttons under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples produced in Taiwan were provided for our examination.


The samples forwarded are item number 5802, a Santa Claus lite-up button, and item number 5803, a Frankenstein lite-up button. There is a yellow light emitting diode (LED) in Santa's right hand and two red light emitting diodes (LEDs) are in Frankenstein's eyes. Within each button there is a printed circuit board with electronic circuitry powered by two watch-type batteries. When a switch at the back of either button is activated, the LEDs start flashing.

The lite-up buttons are 2-1/4" in diameter. The face of each button is made of base metal to which a paper portrayal of Santa or Frankenstein has been glued. The back of each button is made of plastic to which a bar-pin clasp has been affixed.

Item 5802 is said to be representative of five other Christmas buttons that are to be imported under the same item number. Item 5803 is said to be representative of five buttons with a Halloween theme to be imported with the same item number.

Several Customs rulings have classified novelty buttons as imitation jewelry articles of Chapter 71, HTSUSA. In your letter, you maintain that the subject buttons are classifiable as "other toys" in subheading 9503.90.6000. Alternatively, you claim that the Christmas buttons are classifiable as "Christmas ornaments" in subheading 9505.10.2500, HTSUSA, or as "festive articles" in subheading 9505.10.5000, HTSUSA; and that the Halloween buttons are classifiable as "festive articles" in subheading 9505.90.6000, HTSUSA.


How should the subject buttons be classified under the HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section or chapter notes.

Heading 9503, HTSUSA, provides, in pertinent part, for "[o]ther toys." While the subject buttons provide minimal amusement, they are not of a comical nature nor do they feature humorous words or sayings -- they are simply novelty buttons. Consequently, they are not classifiable in Heading 9503.

Heading 9505, HTSUSA, provides, in pertinent part, for "[f]estive, carnival or other entertainment articles." The Explanatory Notes, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, offer guidance in understanding the headings. The Explanatory Note to Heading 9505 indicates that the heading covers:

(A) Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles which in view of their intended use are generally made of non-durable material. They include:

(1) Decorations such as festoons, garlands, Chinese lanterns, etc., as well as various decorative articles made of paper, metal foil, glass fibre, etc., for Christmas trees (e.g., tinsel, stars, icicles), artificial snow, coloured balls, bells, lanterns, etc. Cake and other decorations (e.g., animals, flags) which are traditionally associated with a particular festival are also classified here.

(2) Articles traditionally used at Christmas festivities, e.g., artificial Christmas trees (these are sometimes of the folding type), nativity scenes, Christmas crackers, Christmas stockings, imitation yule logs.

For the most part, the items described above function primarily as decorative articles.

The subject buttons serve to adorn, not to decorate. Moreover, while the buttons depict holiday motifs, they are not of the class or kind of merchandise covered by Heading 9505. Rather, they are worn on the body. Consequently, the buttons are not classifiable in Heading 9505.

Heading 7117, HTSUSA, provides for "[i]mitation jewelry." Chapter 71, HTSUSA, Note 10 indicates that "[f]or the purposes of heading 7117, the expression 'imitation jewelry' means articles of jewelry within the meaning of paragraph (a) of note 8 above...." Note 8(a) defines "articles of jewelry" as: "Any small objects of personal adornment (gem set or not) (for example rings...brooches...)...." A brooch is defined in the Jeweler's Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1976, published by Jewelers' Circular Keystone, as: "A piece of jewelry to be worn pinned to clothing, as at the neck or shoulder, on the breast or hat, or in the hair."

The subject "lite-up" buttons feature bar-pin clasps (the type of clasp routinely used on jewelry pins or brooches) and are worn on the breast. As these articles adorn the body and present features associated with brooches, they are classifiable in Heading 7117, HTSUSA, which provides for imitation jewelry.


The merchandise in issue is classifiable in subheading 7117.90.5000, HTSUSA, which provides for imitation jewelry, other, other, valued over 20 cents per dozen pieces or parts. The applicable rate of duty is 11 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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