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HQ 088882

November 12, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 088882 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 8536.90.00; 8473.30.40

District Director of Customs
International & Terrace Streets
Nogales, AZ 85621

RE: Multilayer Bus Circuits; HQ 079114;
Protest No. 2601-90-000001

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2601-90-000001, dated September 11, 1990, concerning your action in classifying and assessing duty on multilayer bus circuits under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The merchandise consists of multilayer bus circuits (MBC's), also known as multilayer bus bars. Other components, such as capacitors, diodes, ferrite chokes, connectors, and resistors, may be imported as part of the MBC, depending upon the user's needs.

An MBC is comprised of a series of insulated layers of copper plates which are plated, formed, and pierced to accept connectors. The MBC is then held together by adhesive through lamination or by assembly through mechanical means. The purpose of the MBC is to transmit, control, and modify electrical pulses to and from the power supply and motherboard to other printed circuit boards in Automatic Data Processing (ADP) equipment. It is used exclusively for ADP's. These electrical pulses, which are 2 and 6 volts, are measured in microseconds. The MBC is designed to specific insulation, impedance, capacitance, and resistance standards.

According to counsel for the importer, the MBC has several objectives. First, the MBC is to achieve low inductance characteristics to minimize any changes to supplied current. Second, the MBC design aim is to maximize the capacitance element to provide a stable voltage supply and reduce the signal noise inherent in changing power demands. Third, the MBC is designed to minimize the resistance element to insure a smooth transmission of power without loss due to heat conversion. Subsidiary objectives include providing rigidity to the wall of an ADP, and serving as part of an ADP's frame mounting.


What is the classification of the subject merchandise under the HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

The merchandise was entered under subheading 8473.30.40, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[p]arts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471: [n]ot incorporating a cathode ray tube." However, the merchandise was liquidated under subheading 8536.90.00, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[e]lectrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits, for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: [o]ther apparatus."

Counsel for the importer argues that an ADP "is dependent on the inclusion of a reliable [MBC] to deliver signals to and from the motherboard", and therefore, the subject merchandise, under HQ 079114, dated October 19, 1987, "constitutes a circuit and is also 'more than' a type of insulated electrical conductor with fittings." The claim is that the MBC is a multi-functional circuit. It does more than merely conduct electrical current, as counsel has noted by listing the various objectives of the MBC. These objectives, including the subsidiary objectives, were explained to us at a meeting with counsel and representatives of the importer at Customs Headquarters on October 28, 1991.

In HQ 079114, a flex circuit was ruled as "more than a type of insulated electrical conductor with fittings." The flex circuit consisted of a flat plastic strip with two jogs, containing several conductors and material in between to increase capacitance. The circuit had electrical connectors at each end, and it was used as a conductor between moving and stationary parts of a disc drive.

HQ 079114 was written under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the predecessor to the HTSUSA. The "more than" language, used under the TSUS, did not transfer to the HTSUSA when it was enacted January 1, 1989. The HTSUSA is a new tariff system and the rules of how it is interpreted and applied are somewhat different from the TSUS. As noted in H. Conf. Rep. No. 576, p.550, on a case-by-case basis TSUS decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting the HTSUSA, particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTSUSA. In this case, a dissimilar interpretation is indicated because the "more than" language is not used under the HTSUSA. Therefore, we do not find HQ 079114 instructive in this case.

Because the MBC is multi-functional, for classification purposes we need to look to its primary function. It is true, as noted, that it has several objectives with regard to the operation of an ADP. However, in our opinion, the essential, basic function of the MBC is to conduct electrical current. Granted the MBC is made exclusively for ADP's and it is indeed complex, it is still essentially a conductor of electricity in an electrical circuit. The other objectives, in light of the MBC's primary function, are secondary.

In understanding the language of the HTSUSA, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUSA. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). The first paragraph to Explanatory Note 85.36 (III)(B) (p. 1390, HTSUSA) provides:

[o]ther connectors, terminals, terminal strips, etc. These include small squares of insulating material fitted with electrical connectors (dominoes), terminals which are metal parts intended for the reception of conductors, and small metal parts designed to be fitted on the end of electrical wiring to facilitate electrical connection (spade terminals, crocodile clips, etc.)

Counsel, as noted, has described an MBC as consisting of a series of insulated layers of copper plates which are plated, formed, and pierced to accept connectors (emphasis supplied). We are of the opinion that your classification of the MBC under subheading 8536.90.00, HTSUSA, was proper.


The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 8536.90.00, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[e]lectrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits, for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: [o]ther apparatus." The protest should be denied in full. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and mailed to the protestant as part of the notice of action on the protest.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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