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HQ 734176

September 19, 1991

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734176 GRV


District Director of Customs
Lincoln Juarez Bridge, Bldg #2
P.O. Box 3130
Laredo, TX 78044-3130

RE: Clarification of C.S.D. 90-58, regarding the country of origin marking of foreign assembled U.S. greeting cards. 19 CFR 134.41(b); degree of visibility/ legibility (print size); topography; C.S.D. 91-23; 734191 (legibility); 728131; 733146; 733736 (various print sizes and types)

Dear Sir:

This is in response to your memorandum of May 8, 1991, requesting clarification of Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 555213 dated February 21, 1990 (subsequently published as C.S.D. 90-58, 24 Cust.Bull. ___ (1990)), on the country of origin marking issue pertaining to the subject foreign-processed greeting cards. A sample of an imported card, marked "Printed in U.S.A., Assembled in Mexico," was submitted for consideration.


C.S.D. 90-58 concerned the applicability of certain partial duty exemption tariff provisions and country of origin marking requirements to foreign-processed greeting cards. Twenty-three card samples of domestically-produced greeting cards--marked "MADE IN U.S.A."--were submitted as part of the ruling request. The "MADE IN U.S.A." marking on these samples was uniformly printed on the back of the cards near the bottom in capital letters, in one of two type letter sizes: in approximately 3- point type (1/32" letters) or half that (approximately 1-point type (1/64" letters)). (A point is a unit of type measurement equal to 0.01384 inch or nearly 1/72 in., and all type sizes are multiples of this unit. For an understanding of the print size/type terms referenced here, see the entry under "Type (printing)" in volume 18 of McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology (6th ed., 1987), or the entry under "Printing" (in pre-1985) or "Printing, Topography and Photo-engraving" (printings since 1985) in volume 14 of The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th ed., 1975)). The majority of these card samples (approximately 20) were printed in approximately 3-point type; only sample cards #2 and #19 were printed in approximately 1- point type. Other information was printed on the back of some of the cards in larger print.

Concerning the country of origin marking issue raised, we addressed only how the greeting cards should be marked in conjunction with entry under the provisions of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), and not whether the "MADE IN U.S.A." markings on the domestically-produced greeting cards satisfied the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR 134.41(b). We stated that, as the greeting cards were being entered into the U.S. under the provisions of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80, the provi- sions of 19 CFR 10.22 required that they be considered products of the country of assembly and marked accordingly. Since the cards are made entirely of American-made materials, the U.S. origin of the material could be disclosed by using a legend such as "Assembled in Mexico from material of U.S. origin," or some similar phrase.

The card sample you submitted for examination in conjunction with this ruling clarification request is marked "PRINTED IN U.S.A. ASSEMBLED IN MEXICO" in capital letters, in approximately 1-point type size. It is your belief that this lettering is too small to be considered legible under the marking regulations, and you request that we issue an opinion as to whether or not the country of origin marking on the submitted greeting card is acceptable. You relate that representatives of Hallmark Cards Inc., have stated that greeting cards with country of origin markings identical to those appearing on the submitted card were submitted to this office as part of the package on which the ruling was based and should be acceptable.


Whether the print size (approximately 1-point type) employed to denote the country of origin marking of the foreign-processed greeting cards satisfies the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR 134.41(b).


The marking statute, 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser the English name of 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.

The primary purpose of the country of origin marking statute is to "mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ulti- mate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influ- ence his will." United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 CCPA 297, 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940). The clear language of 1304 requires 'conspicuous' marking, and to this end 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41), further provides that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. In this regard, we have stated that the concept of conspicuousness embraces two concerns: (1) visibility, which addresses the requirement that the marking must be able to be found easily, and (2) legibility, which addresses the requirement that the marking must be able to be read without strain. Thus, the concept of conspicuous marking is not a fixed minimum, but context-dependent. And where the country of origin marking is presented in conjunction with other information and different print sizes and types are employed, we have noted, that, in general, information presented in a bold type and/or a large print size tends to draw the ultimate pur- chaser's attention away from other information that is presented in a lighter-face type and/or a smaller print size. See, C.S.D. 91-23 and HRL 733736 dated June 19, 1991. Accordingly, the country of origin marking employed in a given context should be such that it is presented in a format that is conspicuous: made readily apparent, 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.

In C.S.D. 91-23, we considered whether the print size and type employed to denote the country of origin marking on packaged leather watch straps--printed on a paper label in 3-point, light print--was sufficient to meet the conspicuous and legibility requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Finding that various print sizes and types were employed to present various information on paper labels inserts, and that the country of origin marking was presented in the lightest-face type and the smallest print size (3-point type), we determined that the country of origin marking on the paper labels did not comply with the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR 134.41(b), as the 3-point type was not easy to read. We suggested that to be considered conspicuous under these circumstances, the print size for the country of origin marking on the paper label should be enlarged to at least a 5-point type and presented in sufficient boldface print so that it was easier to read. See also, HRLs 728131 dated May 13, 1985, and 733146 dated August 10, 1990 (both finding that print measur- ing 1/16" (approximately 5-point type) was sufficiently conspicu- ous to satisfy the country of origin marking requirements). Cf., 734191 dated August 8, 1991 (marking in approximately 2-point print is not conspicuous).

In the present case, after reviewing the original samples submitted by Hallmark which were predominantly marked in approximately 3-point type (1/32" letters) and the sample submitted with your memorandum which was marked in approximately 1-point type (1/72" letters), it is our opinion that any print size smaller than 3-point type cannot be considered conspicuous for country of origin marking purposes on the greeting cards in question. The country of origin markings which are in 1-point type are barely legible to the naked eye and cannot be read without strain. Of course, this 3-point type size minimum presumes that the country of origin information is not buried among additional information such that it is difficult to find in the first instance.


Based on the information and sample(s) submitted in the original ruling and with this clarification request, those greeting cards which denote their country of origin in print size that measures approximately 1-point type do not satisfy the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR 134.41(b). Only those cards which are marked in at least a print size of approximately 3-point may be considered conspicuously marked for country of origin purposes.

Please provide a copy of this ruling to the importer.


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