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HQ 088045

November 29, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 088045 STB


TARIFF NO.: 9506.62.8060

Ms. Margaret Kelcey
Sport Supply Group d/b/a BSN Sports
Box 7726
Dallas, Texas 75209

RE: Utility Ball and Playground Ball

Dear Ms. Kelcey:

This is in response to your inquiry of October 3, 1990, regarding classification of Voit brand utility balls and playground balls under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). These balls are to be imported from Taiwan. Two samples were submitted with your inquiry and, as you requested, are returned with this Ruling Letter. A catalog of your merchandise was also included with your inquiry.


The sample merchandise consists of two inflatable rubber balls, one yellow and the other red in color. The red ball, identified as a Playground ball - product number VPG85HXX - is light in weight and 8 1/2 inches in diameter. It is made of 2 ply construction, inflatable to 1 1/2 PSI, and is designed for games such as kick ball, dodge ball, and other playground activities. The Yellow 4 Square Utility Ball - product number VCG8HXXX - is heavier in weight and measures about 8 inches in diameter. This ball is nylon wound for durability and shape retention and inflates to 2 PSI. It is said to be designed for kicking, batting or other hard impact physical activities.


What is the proper tariff classification of the subject merchandise?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) set forth the legal framework in which merchandise is to be classified under the HTSUSA. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined
first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRI's taken in order.

The headings at issue in this case are:

(a) 9503, HTSUSA, Other toys; reduced size ("scale") models and similar recreational models, working or not;...

(b) 9506, HTSUSA, Articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis) or outdoor games...

In the instant case, classification can be accomplished by reference to GRI 1. It is our determination that both sample balls are properly classifiable in Heading 9506, HTSUSA.

The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level and may be consulted for guidance as to the correct international interpretation of the various HTSUSA provisions. Although the term "toy" is not specifically defined in the tariff, the Explanatory Notes to chapter 95 state the following:

This Chapter covers toys of all kinds whether designed for the amusement of children or adults. It also includes equipment for indoor or outdoor games, appliances and apparatus for sports, gymnastics or athletics, certain requisites for fishing, hunting or shooting, and roundabouts and other fairground amusements.

As noted above, Chapter 95 divides toys and "game equipment" into two separate headings - 9503, HTSUSA, for toys and 9506, HTSUSA, for game equipment. The obvious classification problem that arises concerns the question of "amusement"; since all games and athletics utilizing balls provide some amusement, the determination of whether balls should be classified as toys or as "game equipment" will not always be clear.

It is Customs position that the amusement requirement means that toys should be designed and used primarily for amusement. In considering the instant merchandise, all the factors indicate that these balls are designed primarily for athletic and sports use, which may provide many benefits other than amusement.

First, we note the rugged construction of the subject balls. As part of this construction, these balls possess internal bladders and valves. The description of balls that appears in the Explanatory Notes to Heading 9506, HTSUSA, states as follows:

(B) (6) Balls, other than golf balls and table-tennis balls, footballs, rugby balls and similar balls (including bladders and covers for such balls); water polo, basketball and similar valve type balls; cricket balls.

We can thus infer from Explanatory Note (B)(6) that balls with bladders and valves are the type of rugged balls that are likely to be used for serious athletic activity. In fact, the construction of the balls at issue is similar to that of the typical sports balls, i.e., footballs, basketballs, etc., that are specifically included in Heading 9506, HTSUSA. This construction starts with a molded rubber bladder with an inflation valve, which is then wound with nylon for permanent shape retention. Individual rubber panels are molded to the carcass. The proper subheading is 9506.62.8060, HTSUSA, which applies to balls, other than golf balls and table-tennis balls, inflatable balls, other, other.

If these balls were to be classified as toys, the proper subheading would be 9503.90.50, HTSUSA, the provision for "other toys...inflatable toy balls, balloons and punchballs." This language provides yet more evidence that these balls should not be classified as toys. The reference in subheading 9503.90.50, HTSUSA, to "inflatable toy balls" indicates that the subheading is not referring to "real" balls at all but only to toy imitations of the real thing. The inclusion of "balloons and punchballs" in the subheading is an indication that this subheading does not contemplate the durable, solidly constructed types of balls that are represented by the subject merchandise. For example, a typical toy ball such as a mini-football, basketball, etc., is not made of rubber, but of vinyl. These types of balls usually do not have an internal bladder and do not have nylon windings. They are really balloon-type balls in which the outside vinyl is expanded to the shape of whatever type of ball they are supposed to represent.

Another important factor is the marketing of the subject merchandise. It is clear from the catalog provided this office that this merchandise is marketed towards large entities, primarily schools, and not individual children. One indication, among many, is that they are offered at a certain price for the purchase of 1-11 balls and at a volume discount for the purchase of 12 or more. The entities that purchase these balls are likely to utilize them in organized/supervised athletic games and recreational activities. This class of ball is rarely found in mass merchandise or specialty chain toy stores. The fact that these balls will be used mostly by children is not relevant; an item can be a toy whether it is designed for the amusement of children or adults.


The two sample balls, identified as the Playground Ball and the Utility Ball, are properly classified under subheading 9506.62.8060, HTSUSA, as articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics, other sports...or outdoor games...balls, other than golf balls and table-tennis balls, inflatable balls, other, other. The applicable duty rate is 4.8% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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