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HQ 731524

December 18, 1989

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 731524 jd


William D. Outman, II, Esq.
Baker & McKenzie
815 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-4078

RE: Country of origin marking requirements applicable to sunglasses imprinted with souvenir marking

Dear Mr. Outman:

This is in reply to your letter of June 14, 1988, concerning the application of country of origin marking requirements to sunglasses imprinted with souvenir marking. We regret the delay in responding.


According to your submission, your client will be producing a line of sunglasses in Mexico for distribution in Puerto Rico. The subject sunglasses will have the words "PUERTO RICO", followed by the symbol of Puerto Rico, the tower of a building silhouetted against the sky, imprinted on the upper edge of the left lens.

The words "FRAME MEXICO" appear in raised letters approximately 1/16" in height on the inner side of the left temple of the sample sunglasses submitted for examination. The lettering is referred to as "blind", i.e., it does not contrast with its background. Also, a hang tag that will be attached to the sunglasses as put up for sale is imprinted, in pertinent part, with the words "LEOMINSTER, MA, USA" and, in close proximity, "ASSEMBLED IN MEXICO".

In a recent discussion with a member of my staff, you were told that the "blind" marking described above is not conspicuous. You have supplied two samples of sunglasses produced by your client with marking you consider conspicuous. One pair is of black plastic with the word "TAIWAN" stamped in white lettering on the inner left temple. The other pair has a gold-toned metal frame with the words "FRAME-MEXICO" molded in raised lettering on the inner left temple. The letters do not contrast but are of sufficient size and raised enough to be considered conspicuous. You stated that your client is willing to change the marking method on the souvenir sunglasses and you were informed that although both of the recent samples are considered conspicuously marked, the stamped contrasting lettering is the preferred

You inquire as to what marking requirements are triggered by the presence of the souvenir marking on the lens?


Is country of origin marking appearing in "blind lettering" approximately 1/16" in height on the inner left temple of sunglasses sufficient to satisfy the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304?

What marking requirements are triggered by the presence of souvenir marking on one of the lenses of such sunglasses?


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article. Pursuant to { 134.41(b)), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), ultimate purchasers must be able to find marking easily and read it without strain.

Section 134.47, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.47), states, in pertinent part, that when as part of souvenir marking the name of a location in the U.S. appears on an article, the article shall be legibly, permanently and conspicuously marked to indicate the name of the country of origin of the article preceded by "Made in", "Product of", or other similar words, in close proximity or in some other conspicuous location.

Treasury Decision 74-38 (January 22, 1974; 39 FR 2470), set forth the requirements for marking of eyeglass and sunglass frames. "[N]otice is hereby given that imported eyeglass and sunglass frames, whether assembled or unassembled, must be so marked by means of die stamping in a contrasting color, by raised lettering, by engraving, or by some other method producing a permanent mark. The marking must be legible and conspicuous and must clearly indicate the country of origin to the ultimate purchaser in the United States..."

Upon examination of the sample sunglasses submitted, we find that the country of origin marking on the inner left temple does not satisfy the requirements of 19 U.S.C 1304. Due to the lack of contrast between the lettering and the background, the marking is difficult to find. Additionally, the lack of contrast coupled with the small size of the letters combine to make the
marking difficult to read. Although T.D. 74-83 listed raised lettering as an acceptable method of marking for this type of article, by adding that the marking must be conspicuous, a logical reading of the T.D. reveals that raised lettering is not automatically considered conspicuous. Raised lettering must be easy to find and readable without strain to meet marking requirements.

Non-contrasting lettering has been a factor in determining that country of origin marking on various articles failed to satisfy marking requirements. For example, indented lettering on a black camera body (708609, February 27, 1978); lettering on a pen (724772, March 21, 1984); raised lettering on the handle of a screwdriver (724767, May 14, 1984); raised lettering around the airhole on an inflatable vinyl ball (728179, July 3, 1985); and raised or indented lettering on small plastic toys (731457, June 30, 1988).

As noted above, you have submitted additional samples exhibiting marking that is conspicuous. You state that your client is agreeable to changing the method of marking used on the souvenir glasses. On plastic frames such as the souvenir glasses submitted, stamped, contrasting color lettering, of a larger size would be considered conspicuous. The placement on the left inner temple is acceptable and may be continued.

Assuming that the marking on the temple is corrected, we turn to the implications of the words "PUERTO RICO" appearing on the lens. For reasons explained below, we determine that under the operation of { 134.47, Customs Regulations, such reference requires no additional marking to that appearing on the temple.

In applying { 134.47 to souvenir marking reading "PUERTO RICO", we are aware that Puerto Rico is not a location in the U.S. However, in ruling 710682 (June 26, 1979), { 134.47 was applied to the trademark "Rome 1001" appearing on jeans. The application of { 134.47 was explained thusly: "The rationale for granting a special exemption for trademarks and trade names containing the name of a domestic locality applies at least as strongly to trademarks bearing the name of a foreign locality. Accordingly, it is our opinion that the intent of { 134.47 was to include foreign trademark designations as well as domestic locales." Similarly, we believe the intent of { 134.47 will be best served by including foreign souvenir designations. Since { 134.47 requires that on articles with souvenir marking the country of origin marking appear in a conspicuous location, not necessarily in close proximity to the souvenir marking, the corrected marking on the temple will suffice.

For purposes of marking law, a hang tag attached to an article is considered part of the article. Therefore, the
presence of a U.S. address on the hang tag to be attached to these sunglasses invokes the operation of { 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46). That section states, in pertinent part, that when the name of a U.S. city appears on an imported article, there shall appear, legibly, permanently, and in close proximity, and in at least comparable size print, the name of the country of origin preceded by "Made in", "Product of", or other words of similar meaning. Concerning the similarity of "Assembled in" to the suggested phrases, Customs ruling 731507 (October 17, 1989), stated:

Finally, it should be noted that the phrase "Assembled in" will not constitute sufficient country of origin marking outside the context of section 10.22 (i.e., where an assembled article is not eligible for the subheading 9802.00.80 exemption). In such case, the general country of origin rule applies and the country of origin is the country of assembly only if the assembly process constitutes a substantial transformation. Approval of the phrase "Assembled in" outside the context of section 10.22 would be misleading since the country of assembly may or may not be the country of orign for purposes of 19 U.S.C 1304.

You have not indicated that the subject sunglasses are eligible for consideration under { 10.22, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.22). That section refers to the marking of imported articles that have been assembled abroad in whole or in part of U.S. components. Accordingly, the hang tag attached to the sunglasses should be changed to read "MADE IN MEXICO" or "PRODUCT OF MEXICO."


As explained above, the sample souvenir sunglasses are not conspicuously marked. However, you have presented two other samples of sunglasses produced by your client that are conspicuously marked, and conveyed your client's willingness to change the marking method on the souvenir glasses to a method that would produce a conspicuous marking. Once the temple
marking is corrected, no additional marking is necessary because of the souvenir marking on the left lens. Finally, the wording on the hang tag attached to the sunglasses must be changed to read "Made in" or "Product of" in conformity with { 134.46, Customs Regulations.


Marvin M. Amernick

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