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HQ 734662

October 8, 1992

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734662 RC


Mr. Jay P. Urwitz
Hale and Dorr
The Willard Office Building
1455 Pennsylvania
Washington, D.C. 20004

RE: Country of Origin Marking for Ski Boots; Conspicuous Place.

Dear Mr. Urwitz:

This is in response to your request, dated May 26, 1992, for a ruling on the acceptability of the country of origin marking on six types of ski boots. In your subsequent letter dated August 20, 1992, pursuant to section 19 C.F.R. 177.6, you withdrew your request with regard to the following ski boots: Group B. "Tri- Tech", Group C. "72/42", Group D. "61/31", and Group F. "91/71" and requested that we rule only with regard to Group A. "Integral/Evolution" and Group E. "128".


Your client, Salomon/North America, Inc. (Salomon), imports various downhill ski boots made primarily in France and Italy for retail sale in the United States. The ski boots to be considered are divided into two groups:

Group A. "Integral" marked "MADE IN FRANCE", and "Evolution" marked "MADE IN ITALY" on the front sole pad of each.

Group E. "128"--marked "MADE IN ITALY" in the center of the sole, under the arch area.

The boots are marked with their countries of origin by means of raised lettering which is imparted by injection molding during manufacture. The lettering is approximately 9 points in height and approximately 1/32 to 1/16 inch in relief, injection molded. (A point is a unit of type measurement equal to 0.01384 inch or nearly 1/72 inch, and all type sizes are multiples of this unit.) You have indicated that because the attachment of tags is not acceptable to Salomon North America, Inc. for various practical and commercial reasons, Salomon requests approval from Customs of the above-described injection-molded marking on the sole of the boot.


Whether the markings as described above are legible, permanent, and in a conspicuous place within the meaning of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.


The marking statute, section 304, 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 in the U.S. 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.

Section 134.41(b), (19 CFR 134.41(b)), Customs Regulations, specifies that a marking should be at least sufficiently permanent to insure that in any reasonably foreseeable circumstance the marking shall remain on the article or its container until it reaches the ultimate purchaser and that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain.

Two previous rulings on footwear tend to support your position that the sole or bottom of the boot is a conspicuous place to put the country of origin marking. In HQ 734267 (December 11, 1991), a beach thong submitted for ruling upon was marked with an adhesive label attached to the rear of the thong on its side. Although our chief concern in that ruling was the permanency element of conspicuousness, we ruled that the marking, which was located on the side of the sole, complied with all the requirements of conspicuousness. In HQ 733691 (May 24, 1991), Customs discussed, inter alia, the conspicuousness of a country of origin marking which appeared on the bottom of the sole of athletic footwear. There the shoes were marked by means of either branding, injection molding, or ink-stamping and we ruled that the location of the marking on the sole and the above-mentioned methods of marking were proper. In this case, it is our opinion equally that the markings placed on the bottom or side of the boot, if otherwise legible and permanent, are in a conspicuous place, that is, one in which it will be found easily by the ultimate purchaser. The markings on the submitted samples appear on or near the sole and are injection molded in raised lettering. The topography of the lettering is approximately 1/32 to 1/16 inch in relief, depending on the particular ski boot. The markings appear in non- contrasting colors. While color contrasting usually makes the marking easier to read, there is no specific requirement that the marking be in contrasting colors. To determine whether or not a marking is legible, Customs must consider all the elements: the relief of the letters, the size and style of print, the location, the format, etc.

The marking of the Group A. ski boots with "MADE IN FRANCE" appears in two places, on the sole and on the side near the heel. Another boot is marked only on the sole, "MADE IN ITALY". The soles of both boots are marked with letters raised two to four points which is sufficiently high to create a shadowing effect. This marking on the sole is legible because of its particular relief, and because the nine point lettering is large enough to be read without strain. The marking is permanent because it is injection molded. The marking on the side of the boot is not legible because the relief is slight. It would not be necessary to mark also merely to mark the side of the boot. We are of the view that the country of origin marking of ski boots on the sole of the boot satisfies the requirements of conspicuousness, permanence, and legibility. Therefore, the Group A. country of origin markings on the "Integral" and the "Evolution" are acceptable.

The Group E. ski boots bear the marking "MADE IN ITALY" in one place, on the sole. The marking is permanent because it is injection molded. It is legible because the relief of lettering is sufficiently high to create the shadowing effect, making it easily found, and its nine point height enables it to be read without strain by the ultimate purchaser. Therefore, the Group E. country of origin marking on the "128" is acceptable.


The country of origin markings for the ski boots in Group A., "Integral/Evolution", and Group E., "128", satisfy the requirements of 19 USC 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.


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