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HQ 088086

February 7, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 088086 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 8543.80.90

Mr. Jerrold E. Anderson
Katten Muchin & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street, Suite 1600
Chicago, Illinois 60606-3693

RE: The Smart Start Speller; Educational Electronic Learning Device for Children; Electrical Machines and Apparatus

Dear Mr. Anderson:

This is in reply to your letter of October 3, 1990, on behalf of Video Technology Industries, Inc., requesting classification of the Smart Start Speller, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The Smart Start Speller ("Speller") is an electronic educational learning device for use by children ages 5 to 8. It has a 44 key keyboard and a small LCD display screen. A programmed electronic microprocessor contains ten educational exercises including spelling activities and programs for music learning. The Speller includes a user's manual and an activity workbook containing 150 illustrated spelling questions. The workbook is used in conjunction with the machine, guiding the user through the various matching and identification exercises. Correct answers are rewarded with a musical salute and a numerical score displayed on the LCD screen, and can be recorded in a section provided in the book. The workbook suggests that the scoring is a good way to keep track of the user's learning progress.


What is the classification of the "Smart Start Speller," educational electronic device for children, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

The Speller is prima facie classifiable under the following headings:

8472 which provides for other office machines (for example, hectograph or stencil duplicating machines, addressing machines, automatic banknote dispensers, coin-sorting machines, coin-counting or wrapping machines, pencil- sharpening machines, perforating or stapling machines).

9504 which provides for articles for arcade, table or parlor games, including pinball machines, bagatelle, billiards and special tables for casino games; automatic bowling alley equipment.

9503 which provides for other toys; reduced-size ("scale" models and similar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds; and accessories thereof.

8543 which provides for electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter.

Subheading 8472.90.80, HTSUSA, provides for: "[o]ther office machines: [o]ther." The other office machines that are provided for eo nomine are:"[a]utomatic bank note dispensers and other coin or currency handling machines; [p]encil sharpeners; [n]umbering, dating and check-writing machines; [o]ther. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) to heading 84.72, page 1302, state:

The term "office machines" is to be taken in a wide general sense to include all machines used in offices, shops, factories, workshops, schools, railway stations, hotels, etc., for doing "office work" (i.e., work concerning the writing, recording, sorting, filing, etc., of correspondence, documents, forms, records, accounts, etc.). (Emphasis added).

The heading includes, inter alia: (1) Duplicating machines; (2) Addressing machines; (3) Ticket issuing machines; (4) Coin sorting or coin-counting machines; (5) Automatic banknote dispensers; (6) Pencil sharpening machines; (7) Punching machines; (8) Machines for perforating paper bands so that they can be used in automatic typewriting machines; (9) Perforated band operated machines. Clearly, these are all machines that are to be used in offices, for office work.

The Speller is designed and marketed for the exclusive use of children ages 5-8. Therefore, it is clear that the Speller is not intended for use in offices, for office work.

The EN for chapter 95 (regarding toys, games and sports requisites), page 1585, states: "This chapter covers toys of all kinds whether designed for the amusement of children or adults." Therefore, to be classifiable in chapter 95, the merchandise must be designed for the amusement of children or adults. There can be no question that this article is designed as an educational device and that parents would purchase it as an educational tool for their children. Although the Speller does have automatic scoring and a "musical salute", these features alone do not mean that the Speller was designed for the amusement of children. Furthermore, the ultimate consumer, the child, is learning the same basic skills taught in school, as the parents intended. Therefore, we find that the essential character is that of an educational article and not that of a toy designed to amuse.

You argue that the Speller is properly classifiable under subheading 9504.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[a]rticles for arcade...: [v]ideo games of a kind used with a television receiver and parts thereof." Although the Speller does have some game features, i.e., scoring, the essential character of this machine is not that of a game, but that of a learning device. Learning is the purpose of this machine, not competition or winning. Thus, due to the essential character of this device, for the same reasons the Speller is not properly classifiable as a toy, it is not classifiable as a game.

The Speller is therefore classifiable under subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[e]lectrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; [o]ther." See HQ 086577 (May 4, 1990), HQ 086649 (May 4, 1990), and HQ 085758 (January 2, 1990), for a similar holdings regarding similar merchandise.


The Smart Start Speller is classifiable under the provision for electrical machines and apparatus in subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUSA. The rate of duty is 3.9% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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