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HQ 734835

February 3, 1993

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 734835 KR


Ms. Lisa Levaggi Borter
Adduci, Mastriani, Meeks & Schill
330 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

RE: Country of origin marking of unfinished shear blade castings to be imported and manufactured into finished scissors; substantial transformation; 19 CFR 134.35.

Dear Ms. Borter:

This is in response to your letter dated September 29, 1992, on behalf of your client Acme United Corporation (hereinafter "Acme"), requesting a country of origin ruling regarding unfinished shear blade castings to be imported and manufactured into finished scissors in the United States. Samples of the product were submitted for examination demonstrating the various manufacturing stages. You have requested that the cost information and times of production contained in your ruling request be kept confidential. This information is in brackets and will not be included in the copies of the ruling made available to the public. See 19 CFR 177.2(b)(7); 19 CFR ?103.12(d).


You state that Acme intends to import unfinished shear blade castings from Taiwan. The castings will be further processed in the U.S. to become finished scissors. It is your position that this further processing amounts to a substantial transformation.

You have divided the U.S. manufacturing costs into four categories: labor, overhead, scrap/quality control (SC/QC), and materials. The processing is done on four types of machines called the Alotz, Blotz, M Lotz, and XX Lotz.

You have divided the domestic manufacturing operations into fourteen stages. Stage 1 is the drilling stage. A puncture hole is molded into the casting prior to importation. After importation this hole must be further drilled for the joining rivet to be inserted at a later stage.

Stage 2 is the polishing of the backside of the blade. This consists of grinding off the rough surface left from the casting. the polishing is done on the Alotz machine which uses an abrasive belt to polish one piece at a time.

Stage 3 is the polishing of the foreside and cutting edge of the blade casting. The operation and costs are identical to those in Stage 2 supra.

Stage 4 is the polishing of the tip of the finger piece. The operation and costs are the same as the previous two steps, except that this step is only done to the finger blade.

Stage 5 is the polishing of the flat surface surrounding the nail hole. This operation is done on the Blotz machine which is a two belt polishing machine.

Stage 6 is the polishing of the outside blade consisting of the entire flat outer surface area of both the finger and thumb blades. This is done on the M Lotz machine. This results in a rough finish.

Stage 7 is racking and nickel plating the blades. The blades are placed on a rack and moves into six consecutive liquid solutions: a cleaner, a water rinse, an acid bath to remove surface impurities, a cleaner to remove the acid, and water rinse to remove the cleaner, and lastly into a nickel plating tank where the nickel is electrolytically bonded to the blades. The blades are then removed from the rack and placed into totes.

Stage 8 is the grinding/sharpening of the blade edges of each of the pieces. This is done manually on a grinding wheel. You state that this and the riveting together of the blades are the steps that impart he chief functional characteristics of the scissors, the hinged cutting ability.

Stage 9 is the placing of the blade into a "Miford Riveter" for the insertion of the rivet by activating a foot pedal.

Stage 10 is the assembly of the finger and thumb pieces using the Miford Riveter. The machine places the blades together, a washer is placed on top of the finger blade over the rivet. The parts are place in a fixture on the machine which creates a head on the finger side permanently joining the blades together.

Stage 11 is the grinding even of the points on the blades so that the blades match. This is done manually on a grinding wheel.

Stage 12 is the buffing of the scissors on a XX Lotz machine. First a cleaning compound and then two series of polishing wheels buff each piece.

Stage 13 is called "Japanning". This consists of dipping, racking, and baking. The operator manually dips the handles into a vat of "japan", a lacquer or varnish giving a hard glossy finish. The scissors are then put into a rack where the excess black paint is wiped from the handles. Next the racks are loaded into an oven to bake.

Stage 14 is the manual testing, inspection and oiling of the scissors.

The actual time of casting in Taiwan is unknown, but you state it is less than the processing time in the U.S. Further, you state that the U.S. operations require much more skill than the simple casting in Taiwan.


Whether the imported blade castings are substantially transformed by the additional processing performed in the U.S.


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or 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. The Court of International Trade stated in Koru North America v. United States, 701 F. Supp. 229, 12 CIT 1120 (CIT 1988), that "in ascertaining what constitutes the country of origin under the marking statute, a court must look at the sense in which the term is used in the statute, giving reference to the purpose of the particular legislation involved." The purpose of the marking statute is outlined in United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 CCPA 297 at 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940), where the court stated that: "Congress intended that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will."

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.35, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.35), states that the manufacturer or processor in the U.S. who converts or combines the imported article into a different article having a new name, character or use will be considered the ultimate purchaser of the imported article within the contemplation of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and the article shall be excepted from marking.

A substantial transformation occurs when an article loses its identity and becomes a new article having a new name, character or use. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 at 270 (1940); National Juice Products Association v. United States, 628 F. Supp. 978, 10 CIT 48 (CIT 1986); Koru North America v. United States, 701 F. Supp. 229, 12 CIT 1120, (CIT 1988).

Customs has ruled on several occasions on whether the processing of forged blanks into finished or semifinished metal instruments is a substantial transformation. In determining whether there is a substantial transformation, Customs has looked at the specific processing operations. In HRL 055703 (September 24, 1979), Customs ruled that a German forging sent to Malaysia for milling and machining, including widening the holes for joining matching pieces, machining small ridges for locking or gripping and machining to define the edges and surfaces, was substantially transformed into a surgical instrument whose country of origin was Malaysia. In HRL 553197 (February 11, 1985), Customs determined that the machining of forged blanks in the U.S., consisting of deburring, milling, assembly and riveting constituted a substantial transformation. In that same ruling Customs found that the subsequent rough polishing, hand shaping and curving, heat treatment and final polishing of the instruments in Pakistan was not a substantial transformation.

In C.S.D. 90-53 (February 12, 1990) Customs ruled that while the U.S. forgings may have resembled the size and shape of the finished articles, they were not yet machined to their actual dimensions and lacked essential characteristics such as the capacities to grip, close, lock in place and to be adjusted. Without the machining, bending, cutting, rivetting, assembly and polishing operations the articles would not have been useful for their purpose and did not have the characteristics thereof. In a case similar to the instant situation, HQ 732615 (June 6, 1990), Customs ruled that surgical scissors underwent a substantial transformation after forging by refining the shape and grinding, joining and riveting, polishing, adjusting, and buffing.

Based on these determinations we conclude in this instance that the imported castings are substantially transformed in the U.S. as a result of the further processing in the U.S. and therefore become a product of the U.S. Accordingly, we find that Acme is the ultimate purchaser of the castings under 19 CFR 134.35.

This ruling does not address the issue of whether "USA" may be marked on the packaging, or scissors. The determination of marking an item with the "USA" symbol is under the primary jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission. We, therefore, recommend that you contact the Federal Trade Commission, Division of Enforcement, located at 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580, for any views concerning marking the scissors with the "USA" symbol.


Imported blade castings are substantially transformed into scissors in the U.S. by the further processing steps performed in the U.S. as described above. Therefore, Acme is the ultimate purchaser of the blade castings.


John Durant, Director

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