United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1994 HQ Rulings > HQ 0951261 - HQ 0952146 > HQ 0952145

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 952145

April 19, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952145 ALS


TARIFF NO.: 4016.99.5050

District Director of Customs
1000 Second Avenue
Suite 2200
Seattle, WA 98104-1049

RE: Request for Further Review of Protest 3001-92-100168, dated February 19, 1992, Concerning Office Machine Keytop Backing Rubber

Dear Sir:

This ruling is on a protest that was filed against your decisions of December 6, 1991, and January 24, 1992, in the liquidation of 10 entries covering the referenced item.


The subject article is a vulcanized keytop backing used in the manufacture of automatic data processing keyboards. It is composed of a nonsilicone compound. Customs laboratory analyses of the product show that the rubber is either poly (ethylene-co- propylene) or poly (ethylene propylene) rubber. It consists of a resilient dome which is actuated by a plastic keytop and which acts as a return spring. When force is applied to the keytop switch the dome collapses allowing an integral carbon pad to short a pair of contacts on a printed circuit board.


What is the classification of an office machine keytop backing made of rubber?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) 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 heading and any relative section and chapter notes. If GRI 1 fails to classify the goods and if the heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's are applied, taken in order.

The importer claims that the article under consideration is classifiable in heading 8473 under the provision for parts of data processing machines. The entries covering the article were liquidated under the provision for articles of vulcanized rubber in heading 4016. The importer references New York Ruling (NYRL) 863577, dated June 21, 1991, in support of its position.

We considered the above headings and the referenced ruling. In considering that ruling we noted that the article covered thereby was a molded silicone rubber pad with collapsible protrusions or domes used in printed circuit board switch panels. It was classified in the provisions for parts of a telephone set in heading 8517.

In evaluating the propriety of classification of the product in heading 8473, we noted that both that heading and heading 8517 fall in Section XVI of the HTSUSA. Note 1(a) of that section excludes certain articles from classification therein. It specifically excludes other articles of a kind used in machinery or mechanical or electrical appliances or for other technical uses, of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber (heading 4016).

Note 4 to Chapter 40, HTSUSA, which contains the referenced heading describes synthetic rubber as applying to unsaturated synthetic substances which can be irreversibly transformed by vulcanization (cross-linkable) with sulfur into non-thermoplastic substances which, at a temperature between 18 and 29 degrees Centigrade, will not break on being extended to three time their original length and will return, after being extended to twice their original length, within a period of 5 minutes, to a length not greater than 1-1/2 times their original length. Based on this note, synthetic rubbers which are not cross-linkable with sulfur are not classifiable as rubber.

In regard to the article in NYRL 863577 we note that such article was composed of silicone rubber which is not cross- linkable with sulfur whereas the current article is composed of a nonsilicone compound and is cross-linkable with sulfur. Pursuant
to the aforementioned Note 4 to chapter 40, the silicone rubber was not considered a rubber. Thus the silicone-rubber pad was considered a plastics material of chapter 39, HTSUSA, rather than a rubber of chapter 40.

Machine parts of plastics are not precluded from classification in section XVI. Since the part which was the subject of NYRL 863577 was solely or principally used as a part of the telephone set, classification remained in section XVI (heading 8517).

As indicated above, Customs laboratory analyses of the current product show that the rubber in the keytop backing rubber is either poly (ethylene-co-propylene) or poly (ethylene propylene) rubber. These materials meet the chapter 40 definition for synthetic rubber. Therefore, the keypads, even though they may be solely or principally used as parts of automatic data processing equipment, are precluded from classification as parts in section XVI.

Accordingly, we have concluded that the rubber backing is properly classifiable in chapter 40, HTSUSA.


Office machine keytop backings composed of poly (ethylene- co-propylene) rubber of poly (ethylene propylene) rubber are classifiable in subheading 4016.99.5050, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber, other. They are subject to a general rate of duty of 5.3 percent ad valorem.

Since the classification indicated above is the same as the classification under which the entries were liquidated, you are instructed to deny the protest in full. 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

Previous Ruling Next Ruling