United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1991 HQ Rulings > HQ 0733776 - HQ 0733963 > HQ 0733833

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 733833

February 19, 1991

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 733833 NL


Dee Katson
Offshore Assembly Manager
Customs and Trade Dept.
Levi Strauss & Co.
P.O. Box 7215,
San Francisco, CA 94120

RE: Marking of Denim Jeans; "Brittania" Trademark; "USA"; 19 CFR 134.46; 19 CFR 134.47; 9802.00.80 HTSUS; "Assembled In".

Dear Ms. Katson:

This is in response to your letter of September 25, 1990, in which you request a ruling concerning the acceptability of a leather-like label which Brittania Sportswear, Ltd., a Division of Levi Strauss, proposes to attach to denim jeans assembled in Mexico.


The labels in question bear a registered trademark which includes the name "Britannia" and a graphic design based on the United Kingdom and United States flags. Superimposed on the graphics are the letters "USA". These letters are not part of the registered trademark.

Brittania Sportswear would attach the label to the outside waistband of men's denim jeans (style 101) which are assembled in Mexico from U.S. - origin components. The fabric is formed, finished, and cut in the U.S. After assembly in Mexico the finished jeans are imported into the U.S. under subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The inside waistband of the jeans bears a sewn-in cloth label stating fabric and care information and the words "Assembled in Mexico".


Does the leather-like label on the outside waistband of the jeans satisfy the country of origin marking requirements?


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 country of origin of the article.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. For purposes of the marking requirements, the country of origin of the jeans is Mexico. See, 19 CFR 10.22, which provides that assembled articles entitled to the exemption from duty provided under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS (19 U.S.C. 1202), shall be considered products of the country of assembly for marking purposes, and shall be marked by use of the words "Assembled in ---". Here, the jeans are correctly marked "Assembled in Mexico".

The marking issue raised involves the application of two related provisions of the marking regulations, 19 CFR 134.46 and 19 CFR 134.47. The application of the special marking requirements set forth in in these provisions is triggered by the presence of the letters "USA" on the leather-like patch. (While the name "Brittania" is suggestive of a country other than the country of origin of the jeans, it is not the long form or short form name of that country. Thus, the name "Brittania" does not trigger special marking requirements.)

Both provisions serve the same purpose of preventing ultimate purchasers from being misled or deceived when the name of a country or place other than the country of origin appears on an imported article or its container. The critical difference between the two provisions is that 134.46 requires that the name of the actual country of origin appear "in close proximity" to the spurious marking and in lettering of at least comparable size. By contrast, 134.47 requires less, providing that when the name of a place other than the country of origin appears as part of a trademark or trade name or as part of a souvenir marking, the name of the actual country of origin must appear in close proximity to the spurious name "or in some other conspicuous location". In other words, if the question concerns a trade name or trademark, the country of origin marking needs only to meet the general standard of conspicuousness. As applied here, the requirements of 19 CFR 134.47 would be satisfied by the existing label on the inside of the waistband, which Customs has long ago determined is a conspicuous location in which to mark the country of origin on a pair of trousers. See, T.D. 71-264(3) (August 18, 1971).

However, in the case of these jeans it is our opinion that the more stringent requirements of 19 CFR 134.46 must apply. The letters "USA" are next to the name "Brittania" on the patch, but are not part of the trademark. In HQ 722064 (August 3, 1983), Customs ruled that 19 CFR 134.47 would apply only if the word "Paris" was part of the registered trade name. Otherwise, 19 CFR 134.46 would be the applicable provision.

Here, where the letters "USA" are not part of the trademark or trade name, there is potential for the ultimate purchaser to be misled. This reference to the U.S. is not like the circumstances in other rulings where we have ruled that such references were part of the decoration, and thus would not be regarded by an ultimate purchaser as an indication of country of origin. See, e.g., HQ 732412 (August 29, 1989)(jeans whose design includes the word "Kansas" are adequately marked by a label at the waistband.) Here, by contrast, the reference may reasonably be read as a reference to the jeans' country of origin, and there is no other marking to dispel such an impression.

It is our opinion that, as prescribed by 19 CFR 134.46, the country of origin, Mexico, preceded by the words "Made in", "Product of", or "Assembled in", must appear in close proximity to the letters "USA" in lettering of comparable size. For these jeans, "close proximity" means on the same patch on the outside of the waistband as the potentially confusing reference "USA", or immediately next to the patch on the outside of the waistband.


As required by 19 CFR 134.46, the words "Assembled in Mexico" or words to similar effect must appear on the leather- like patch on the outside waistband of the jeans, in lettering of comparable size to the letters "USA".


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: