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HQ 087690

December 7, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087690 KWM


TARIFF: 4819.50.40

District Director
U.S. Customhouse
127 North Water Street
Ogdensburg, New York 13669

Attn: SIS C.L. Noyes

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 0712-90-000244; Compact disc boxes; Folding boxes; Other packing containers; Paperboard; Record sleeves; Not printed matter; Printing merely incidental to primary use.

Dear Sir:

This protest was filed against your decision in the liquidation of entry number 331-XXXXXXX-X, entered on XXXX XX, XXXX and liquidated on XXXXXXX X, XXXX. The shipment contained various items including compact disc boxes. The goods are manufactured in Canada and imported via Champlain, New York. Our decision follows.


The goods at issue here are described as "compact disc boxes." They are thin, rectangular boxes designed to hold compact disc recorded media for transport and sale. The boxes measure approximately 12 inches in length, 6 inches in width, and - inch in thickness. They are made from a single sheet of paperboard, folded lengthwise such that a portion of paperboard forms an inner partition or filler on the inside of the box. The box is assembled by gluing the folded sheet in three locations on two internal surfaces. A square plastic case containing the recorded media is inserted into one end of the box. The folded inner partition fills the remaining volume of the box, keeping the plastic case/compact disc stationary. The ends are then sealed by means of glue. It is our understanding that the length of the box (twice the length of the plastic disc case) is for display purposes. The plastic disc cases have inserts which provide information about the recording. After the disc has been purchased and transported home, the paperboard box is discarded.

The importer asserts two alternative classifications for the boxes. First, subheading 4911.99.60, HTSUSA, as other printed matter, is claimed. In the alternative, the importer claims classification under subheading 4819.20.00, HTSUSA, as folding cartons and boxes. Customs believes the proper classification is subheading 4819.50.40, HTSUSA, providing for other packing containers of paper or paperboard.


Are the compact disc boxes classified as printed material under heading 4911 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States?

If not, what is the proper classification for these goods?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

Heading 4911, HTSUSA

Counsel for the importer first contends that the compact disc boxes are classified under heading 4911, HTSUSA, as other printed matter. That conclusion is based on a GRI 3(c) analysis. Counsel asserts that both heading 4819, HTSUSA, and heading 4911, HTSUSA provide for the goods: "[The] two headings [4819 and 4911, HTSUSA] are equally descriptive." Therefore, by application of GRI 3(c), the heading which occurs last in numerical order is the preferred classification. We disagree. First, we do not believe that a GRI 3(c) is necessary. Under GRI 1, we look to the heading terms and legal notes to classify goods. In their memorandum, counsel asserts that application of Legal Note 11 to Chapter 48, HTSUSA, substantiates the GRI 3(c) analysis. We believe that Legal Note 11 to Chapter 48, HTSUSA, is dispositive, precluding a GRI 3(c) analysis. It provides that:

11. Except for articles of heading 4814 or 4921, paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or articles thereof, printed with motifs, characters, pictorial representations, which are not merely incidental to the primary use of the goods, fall in Chapter 49.

Therefore, a determination here as to whether or not the printing on the compact disc boxes is ". . .not merely incidental to the primary use of the goods. . ." will serve to exclude either Chapter 48 or 49, HTSUSA from further consideration. No two equally descriptive four-digit headings will be in contention.

Since Legal Note 11 is dispositive, we address here the arguments made in that regard. Counsel asserts that the printing on the boxes is essential to the promotion and marketing of the compact discs: "providing pictorial and textual information about the C.D. on the box for point of purchase displays is what enhances its merchandising potential." This in turn "adds a significant dimension to their use as containers. . .." The memorandum is not clear whether the primary use of the boxes is as a marketing and promotional device or as a container. The primary use, in our opinion is a container for transportation, packing and sale of the compact discs. That they are printed with pictorial and textual material does not more than merely incidentally impact on that primary use. The nature of the construction of the box indicates that the package is designed simply to facilitate placement of the compact disc in a retail sales rack. This is not a marketing feature, it is merely an change in the physical dimensions of the disc container for storage purposes. That the printing may have an incidental impact on the sale of the merchandise is within the intended scope of the heading.

Next, counsel compares compact disc boxes to record jackets and relies on a prior Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) number 070040, for the proposition that the printing is more than merely incidental. With regard to the prior ruling letter, HRL 070040 was issued under the auspices of the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), and may be considered for informational purposes only in limited circumstances. They are not binding on future classification issues. Lastly, we note that record "jackets" or "sleeves" are, in our opinion, provided for eo nomine within heading 4819, HTSUSA, and not as printed matter. The Explanatory Notes to Chapter 48, heading 4819, HTSUSA, indicate that:

(A) Cartons, boxes cases bags and other packing containers

This group covers containers of various kinds and sizes, generally used for the packing, transport, storage or sale of merchandise, whether or not also having a decorative value. . .

The article of this group may be printed, e.g., with the name of the merchant, directions for use, illustrations. . .

(Emphasis added). Both compact disc boxes and record jackets contain similar printed information. That record jackets may be classified in subheading 4819, HTSUSA, indicates to us that the same or similar information printed on compact disc boxes does not exclude them from the chapter on the basis of Legal Note 11 to Chapter 48, HTSUSA. In other words, if one is not considered to be "printed matter", then the other will not either. The disposable nature of the compact disc boxes does not change our opinion. The function and primary use of the product is the same, and meets the criteria for inclusion in heading 4819, HTSUSA.

Subheading 4819.20, HTSUSA

As an alternative classification, counsel suggests subheading 4819.20, HTSUSA, which includes folding cartons, boxes and cases, of non-corrugated paper or paperboard. Counsel discusses the Explanatory Notes to heading 4819, HTSUSA, which include the following:

The heading includes folding cartons, boxes and cases. These are:

- cartons, boxes and cases in the flat in one piece, for assembly by folding and slotting (e.g., cake boxes);

- containers assembled or intended to be assembled by means of glue, staples, etc., on one side only, the construction of the container itself providing the means of forming the other sides, although, where appropriate, additional means of fastening, such as adhesive tape or staples may be used to secure the bottom or lid.

(Emphasis added). The gist of the discussion is the permissible method(s) of assembly and where glue may be applied. Counsel apparently contends that only one line of glue is attributable to the construction of the actual "box", the remainder being applied to the inner partition. Therefore, it is more akin to a box with a glued insert, rather than glued on more than one side. In support of this, counsel states the "a careful inspection of the container reveals that only one side of the actual container, along its length, is secured by means of adhesive." We believe this to be too narrow a definition of "container." We do not consider this item to be a 'box-with-adjuncts.' Instead we view the partition as an integral part of the box's structure, particularly in light of the folded, single sheet construction described above. We do not believe that a detailed discussion of what constitutes a "side" (i.e., left side, front side, inside and/or outside) is necessary. The Explanatory Notes are of an advisory nature, providing insight into the rationale behind the construction of heading terms. The rationale here is clear: "Folding boxes" are those secured in a single location during manufacture and intended to be assembled into usable form by folding (for example, folded corrugated cardboard boxes).

Further, exclusion from subheading 4819.20, HTSUSA, is substantiated by considering the types of goods included in both that subheading and subheading 4819.50, HTSUSA. The compact disc boxes here are clearly more ejusdem generis to the record sleeves referred to subheading 4819.50, HTSUSA. Even assuming, arguendo, that both subheadings describe the goods in equally specific terms, GRI 3(c) would require classification in the latter subheading.

Within subheading 4819.50, HTSUSA, the provision for other packing containers, other, includes these goods in subheading 4819.50.4060, HTSUSA.


We hold that the goods at issue here, paperboard compact disc boxes, manufactured in Canada and bearing printed information merely incidental to the use of the articles as containers for the transport, storage and sale of merchandise, were properly classified under subheading 4819.50.4040, HTSUSA, which provides for other packing containers of paperboard. Further, we find that the protest should be denied.

A copy of this decision should be attached to the Form 19 Notice of Action to be sent to the protestant.


John A. Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

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