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HQ 088607

November 26, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 088607


TARIFF NO.: 8512.90

District Director of Customs
Patrick V. McNamara Building
477 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, Michigan 48266

RE: Request for Further Review of Protest Number 3805-90-000026, dated July 19, 1990, concerning windshield wiper blades

Dear Mr. Morandini:

This ruling is on a protest filed against your decisions in the liquidation of 7 entries on April 20, 1990.


The articles under consideration are commercially known as windshield wiper blades. They were entered under subheading 8708.99, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as parts and accessories of automobiles. The subject entries were liquidated under subheading 4016.99, HTSUS, as other articles of vulcanized rubber. The protestant claims that the articles should be classified under subheading 8512.90, HTSUS, as parts of windshield wipers.

The windshield wiper blades, which are the subject of this protest, come in various models which have similar features. They each have a rubber insert, known as a refill, which wipes moisture from the windshield. The rubber refill is attached to a - 2 -
stiff shaft or spline which projects out from the refill and fits into a series of 6 slots in a metal frame which holds the refill and creates a force which holds the refill against the windshield, permitting it to perform its function. The stiff shaft or spline may be an integral part of such refill or it may be an integral part of the frame that holds the insert. The aforementioned slots are at the ends of a series of appendages which are attached, by a series of pivot points to the frame member which itself attaches to an arm and, in turn, to a shaft and motor which provide the motive force. The frame member may attach to the arm in several different way, e.g., screws, clips. Although the protest describes the samples as having "a metal arm which consists of several components", the samples provided do not have any arm. The importer, through its broker, has confirmed that the sample provided the port of entry and similar samples subsequently provided this office in connection with the protest, are true representations of the articles which it imports and that the description of the article in the protest, which specified that the article had an arm, is incorrect.


Are the windshield wiper blades classified as articles of rubber or parts of windshield wipers?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 provides that the classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings and relative section and chapter notes. If GRI 1 does not apply, and if the heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's are applied, taken in order.

In considering the appropriate classification of the subject article we note that Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 083970 of July 14, 1989, held that a refill with an integral stiffening shaft or spline was an article of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber and was classifiable under subheading 4016.99, HTSUS. That classification was premised on legal note 1(a) to Section XVI, HTSUS, which provides, in pertinent part, that articles of a - 3 -
kind used in machinery or mechanical or electrical appliances or for other technical uses of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber are not covered by that section.

We note that the sample covered by that prior ruling was composed of a rubber wiping surface and a stiff shaft or spline. It was not attached to a frame and, therefore, was not suitable for its ultimate purpose of removing moisture from a windshield. We note, however, that the article under consideration, which permits the refill to perform its function by holding the refill against the windshield and transmitting the motive force thereto, is a distinct commercial entity. We also note that heading 8512, HTSUS, specifically provides for, among other things, windshield wipers and parts thereof.

While the aforementioned legal note might be interpreted as excluding the article from consideration under chapter 85, HTSUS, we believe that such legal note was meant to cover articles of rubber and not the article under consideration. The article under consideration is an article of vulcanized rubber and metal and not merely an article of rubber. The metal part, in fact, is necessary for the rubber insert to perform the function for which it was designed. The rubber insert would be useless without the metal frame which holds the rubber insert firm to the window and permits it to perform its function of removing moisture from the windshield.

We also believe a specific heading, i.e. heading 8512, HTSUS, is to be preferred over a general heading such as 4016, HTSUS, which would result from applying legal note 1(a), section XVI, hereto. We also reach that interpretation because the application of such legal note would make a nullity of the rather specific language of heading 8512, HTSUS.

We, therefore, have concluded that the article under consideration is classifiable as a part of a windshield wiper.


Windshield wiper blades composed of vulcanized rubber, attached to a spline and, in turn, to a metal frame which fastens to an arm which connects to a motive force, is classifiable under subheading 8512.90, HTSUS, as parts of windshield wipers, and is dutiable at a general rate of 3.1 per cent ad valorem.

The protest should be allowed in full and a copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and provided to the protestant as part of the notice of action on the protest.


John Durant, Director,
Commercial Rulings Division

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