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HQ 089222

September 10, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 089222 CMS


TARIFF NO.: 8471.92.65, 9017.20.80

Mr. John N. Politis
Politis, Pollack & Doram
3255 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1688
Los Angeles, CA 90010

RE: Auto Plotter; Omni Plotter; Express Thermal Plotter; Dot Matrix; Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Machines; Computer Output Units; Computer Aided Design; CAD; Drawing Instruments; HQ Ruling 086082; HQ Ruling 088994

Dear Mr. Politis:

This is in response your request on behalf of Japan Digital Laboratory Co., Ltd. (JDL), dated April 8, 1991, for a classification ruling on certain plotters.


The merchandise consists of three types of plotters. The JDL 850 XP Auto Plotter XP is a C-size serial impact color dot- matrix type plotter. The JDL 950 VA Omni Plotter is a self contained D-size serial impact color dot-matrix type plotter. The JDL 950 TH Express Plotter is a self contained D-size color thermal type plotter.


Is the merchandise classified as ADP output units in Heading 8471, or as drawing instruments in Heading 9017?


The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) superseded the Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (TSUSA) effective January 1, 1989. The HTSUSA provides that the classification of articles is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 states in pertinent part that "...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...".

Heading 8471 in pertinent part describes output units of ADP machines. Heading 9017 in pertinent part describes drawing instruments.

Heading 8471 is a Section XVI heading. Heading 9017 is a Chapter 90 Heading. Section XVI Note 1(m) provides that Section XVI does not cover articles of Chapter 90. Thus, if the plotters are articles of Heading 9017, then they are not classified in Heading 8471.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes to Heading 9017, pp. 1485-1486, provide that Heading 9017 drawing instruments are used in a wide range of drawing applications, including reproductions of maps, plans and drawings, for drafting, and in engineering applications.

Further, Heading 9017 covers computer aided drawing instruments in addition to manual drawing instruments. The Explanatory Notes to Heading 9017, p. 1486, describe drawing instruments such as "drafting machines incorporating automatic data processing or working in conjunction with such machines". A computer aided design (CAD) system which included a digitizer/plotter for producing drawings was classified as a Heading 9017 drawing instrument by the Harmonized System Committee of the Customs Cooperation Council. See Compendium of Classification Opinions No. 9017.10(1).

In the October 23, 1990 correspondence from the Senior Manager of JDL to the District Director of Customs, Los Angeles, it is stated that "JDL imports plotting devices for the engineering computer aided design market" (emphasis added). The product literature for the Express Plotter states that using the plotter with a certain protocol "...you can get lightning-fast plotting from AutoCAD, Computervision Personal Designer, Microstation, and VersaCAD. Plus full HP-GL compatibility is supported for other CAD applications." The Express Plotter literature also states that the plotters perform final plots as well as checkplots.

In the article "New Plotters: All the Way From A to E", PC Magazine, October 14, 1986, p. 180, it is stated that plotters are categorized according to the size paper, or media, they accommodate. Media size, it is stated, usually ranges from A to E. On p. 180 it is stated:

A-and B-size plotters are fine for business graphics, overhead transparencies, and the like, while the larger devices are intended primarily for CADD and professional architectural, engineering, and related applications.

The three JDL plotters under consideration are C and D size plotters.

The importer argues that the three plotters are principally used in printing applications as output units for the ADP machines of Heading 8471, or are alternatively classified as parts in Heading 8473. The importer presents a 1988 market survey for the JDL 850 Plotter, the results of which are marked "confidential". The market survey does not indicate which size of the model 850 plotter was the subject of the survey, and the results of the survey do not clearly support classification in any particular Heading of the HTSUSA.

In contrast, the representations made by JDL in the October 23, 1990 correspondence to Customs, two years after the survey was conducted, unequivocally state that the imported JDL plotters are used in the engineering CAD market.

The available information supports the classification of the plotters as drawing instruments, other drawing instruments, other, in subheading 9017.20.80, HTSUSA.

The importer argues that the JDL plotters are distinguished from the photoplotters which were the subject of HQ Ruling 086082 (June 17, 1991). Although the JDL plotters under consideration do not plot with beams of light, their design features, capabilities and uses support classification in Heading 9017. In HQ Ruling 088994 (July 24, 1991), we found that certain thermal image, pen and electrostatic plotters, which are not photoplotters, were classified in Heading 9017; although they did not plot with beams of light, the plotters were used in CAD, computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and similar applications.

The importer also argues that the plotters should be classified in Heading 8471 pursuant to Chapter 90 Note 2(a). Chapter 90 Note 2, however, applies to parts of Chapter 90 machines and other articles; it is not argued or suggested that the JDL plotters under consideration are parts of any Chapter 90 machines or articles.


The three JDL plotters under consideration are classified as drawing instruments, other drawing instruments, other, in subheading 9017.20.80, HTSUSA.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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