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HQ 733151

September 11, 1990

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 733151 EAB


Art Henry, President
Art Henry Golf Sales
1522 Edgewood Place
Louisville, KY 40205

RE: Country of origin marking requirements of imported golf club heads to be used in the manufacture of golf clubs. Substan- tial transformation; ultimate purchaser; 19 U.S.C. 1304; 19 CFR 134.1(d); 19 CFR 134.35; 19 CFR 134.36(b); 19 CFR 134.46; Koru North America v. United States; United States v. Friedlaender & Co.; United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co.; National Juice Products Association v. United States; ORR 824-70; HQ 728213; HQ 724901; HQ 733185; HQ 656214

Dear Mr. Henry:

This is in reply to your letter dated August 15, 1989, in which you request a ruling on the country of origin marking requirements of golf club heads that you wish to import and resell to specialty manufacturers of golf clubs. We regret the delay in responding.


You wish to import golf club heads for specialty manufactur- ers of golf clubs. These specialty manufacturers take an indivi- dual golf club head, golf club shaft and golf club grip and cus- tom build the parts into a product that is tailor-made for a specific customer. You indicate that generally the heads are imported and the shafts and grips are made in the U.S. For pur- poses of this ruling, we are assuming the shaft and grip are of U.S. origin. You ask if golf club heads with designations of a city, state, region, etc., may be imported without having the name of the country of origin stamped into the golf head.


What are the country of origin marking requirements of imported golf club heads to be used in the domestic manufacture of customized golf clubs?


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. 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 U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. The Court of Interna- tional Trade stated in Koru North America v. United States, 701 F.Supp. 229 (1988): "In ascertaining what constitutes the country of origin under the marking statute, a court must look at the sense in which the term is used in the statute, giving reference to the purpose of the particular legislation involved." The purpose of the marking statute is outlined in United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 CCPA 297 (1940) at 302: "Congress intended that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspec- tion of the marking on the imported goods that country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will."

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.1(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(d)), defines the ultimate purchaser as "generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. If an imported article will be used in manufacture, the manufacturer may be the ultimate purchaser if he subjects the imported article to a process which results in a substantial transformation of the article." Under the provisions of 19 CFR 134.35, if the manufacturer is the ultimate purchaser, the imported article is excepted from individual marking provided the outermost containers in which the article is imported are marked.

A substantial transformation occurs when articles lose their identity and become new articles having a new name, character or use. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., 27 CCPA 267 (1940); National Juice Products Association v. United States, 10 CIT 48, 628 F.Supp. 978 (CIT 1986); Koru North America v. United States, supra.

Customs ruled in ORR 824-70 (August 24, 1970), that a manu- facturer who purchased imported golf club heads, either finished or unfinished, and assembled them with shafts and grips of U.S. origin into finished golf clubs, was the ultimate purchaser of the imported golf club heads. The ruling directed that if the Regional Commissioner of Customs was satisfied that the imported golf club heads were to be used by an original equipment manufac-
turer, then the golf club heads were excepted from individual marking. In HQ 728213 (July 3, 1985), Customs reiterated this position. In HQ 724901 (April 9, 1984), Customs advised that the ultimate purchaser of imported golf club grips to be used in the manufacture of golf clubs was the golf club manufacturer. Customs stated that golf club grips which are imported by golf club manu- facturers in the U.S. are substantially transformed into new and different articles of commerce, i.e., golf clubs.

In HQ 733185 (April 11, 1990) Customs reiterated the posi- tion that golf club grips imported by golf club manufacturers or intended to be sold to golf club manufacturers would be excepted from individual marking. However, Customs also found that imported golf club grips that were to be used in the repair or replacement of grips on completed clubs that already had been purchased or received by the consumer must be individually marked. Customs reasoned that the mere fitting of a replacement grip onto a golf club shaft is a simple assembly not constituting a substantial transformation.

In this case, your customer, the specialty manufacturer of golf clubs, is the ultimate purchaser of the imported heads. As in ORR 824-70, your customers assemble imported golf club heads with U.S. grips and shafts to form a new and different article, i.e., a golf club. Pursuant to 19 CFR 134.35, only the outermost container of the imported heads must be marked to indicate the country of origin of the articles, provided the district director at the port of entry is satisfied that the imported heads will be used only by an original equipment manufacturer of golf clubs.

With regard to imported golf club heads with U.S. addresses, it should be noted that 19 CFR 134.46 provides that in any case in which the words "United States," or "American," the letters "U.S.A.," any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the U.S. appear on an imported article or its container, there shall appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to such words, letters or name, and in at least in a comparable size the name of the country of origin preceded by "Made in," or "Product of," or other words of similar meaning. In addition, as provided in 19 CFR 134.36(b), an exception from marking shall not apply to any article bearing any words described in 19 CFR 134.46 which imply that an article was made or produced in a country other than the actual country of origin. In this regard, Customs has determined that an imported golf club head bearing the U.S. address of the importer is not excepted from individual country of origin marking. See HQ 656214, May 25, 1990. Accordingly, the golf club heads that you import are excepted from individual marking only if they bear no U.S. reference. If they do, the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46 apply. For example, "Joe Smith Custom," or "Joe Smith Custom, U.S.A., Made in Taiwan" or "Joe Smith Custom, Bayonne, NJ, Made in

Japan" are acceptable markings, but "Joe Smith Custom, U.S.A." is unacceptable.


Imported golf club heads which are assembled with grips and shafts of U.S. origin by original equipment manufacturers of golf clubs are excepted from individual country of origin marking and only the outermost containers of such heads must be marked, pursuant to 19 CFR 134.35, provided that (1) the heads do not bear the words "United States," or "American," the letters "U.S.A.," any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the U.S.; and (2) Customs officials at the port of entry are satisfied that the articles will reach the original equipment manufacturers in their original, unopened containers.

Statements to this effect may be required by the district director at the port of entry.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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