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HQ 088994

July 24, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 088994 CMS


TARIFF NO.: 8473.30.40, 9017.90.00

District Director of Customs
300 South Ferry St., Terminal Island
Room 2017
San Pedro, CA 90731

RE: Application For Further Review Of Protest No. 2704-90-004796 (November 23, 1990); Pen Plotters; Electrostatic Plotters; Thermal Direct Image Plotters; Parts And Accessories

Dear Sir:

This protest was filed against your liquidations dated August 24, 1990, through September 14, 1990, in which parts and accessories of certain plotters were classified in 9017.90.00, HTSUSA.


The merchandise consists of circuit boards, imaging heads and other parts and accessories of certain CalComp pen plotters, electrostatic plotters and thermal direct image plotters.

The protestant's Statement Of Position attached to the protest states on p. 1 that the plotters are "...used in the reproduction of various types of drawings and graphic designs created in a computer, including maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings."

Descriptive literature for the plotters states that the plotters offer features most in demand for a wide range of CAD (computer aided design), CAM (computer aided manufacturing) and CAE (computer aided engineering), including integrated circuit and printed circuit board design. The literature states that the products are used with drafting software programs, and that the devices produce plots with the high quality, detail and accuracy demanded by applications such as CAD and CAM. The product literature also repeatedly refers to the plots produced by the devices as "drawings".


Is the merchandise classified in Heading 8473 as parts and accessories of the automatic data processing (ADP) machines and units of Heading 8471, or in Heading 9017 as parts and accessories of drawing instruments?


The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) superseded the TSUS effective January 1, 1989.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 8473 in pertinent part describes parts and accessories suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of Heading 8471 (ADP machines and units). Heading 9017 in pertinent part describes parts and accessories of drawing instruments.

To properly classify the parts and accessories under consideration, the classification of the plotters themselves must be determined.

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 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 Opinion No. 9017.10(1).

The publication Byte, Vol. 13, No. 13 (December, 1988), p. 166, states that one of the Calcomp plotters "...draw[s] sharp, consistent plots on almost any medium" (emphasis added).

In HQ Ruling 086082 (June 17, 1991), a copy of which is attached for your reference, we held that certain high quality laser plotters used in conjunction with ADP machines for CAD, CAM, engineering and other high precision applications including printed circuit board plotting were classified as drawing instruments in Heading 9017.

Like the laser plotters at issue in HQ Ruling 086082, the plotters under consideration are high quality plotters used in conjunction with ADP machines for CAD, CAM, engineering and other high precision applications including printed circuit board plotting.

The plotters under consideration are described by Heading 9017.

The protestant makes several arguments as to why the plotters should be classified in Chapter 84 of the HTSUSA and not in Chapter 90. These arguments include that the plotters are not used in the "drawing process" as described in certain TSUS cases, are not hand held instruments, and that some plotters were classified as output devices under the TSUS.

These arguments do not support the classification of the merchandise in Chapter 84 of the HTSUSA. Under the HTSUSA, it is clear that Heading 9017 covers drawing instruments that work in conjunction with ADP machines, and not just hand-held instruments. The arguments set forth by the protestant are more fully addressed in HQ Ruling 086082.


The merchandise under consideration is classified as parts and accessories of drawing instruments, in 9017.90.00. The protest should be denied. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Form 19 Notice of Action.


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