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HQ 953265

May 14, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953265 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 3818.00.00

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
620 East 10th Ave., Rm 101
Anchorage, AK 99501

RE: Protest No. 3196-91-100019; Showa Denko America; GAP-EPI-R Type Unmounted Light Emitting Diode Chips; LED; Wafer; Chip; Chemical Element Doped For Use In Electronics; 3818.00.00; 8541.40.20; 8541.40.60

Dear District Director:

This is our response to Protest Number 3196-91-100019, dated September 27, 1991, and Application for Further Review, regarding the classification of "GAP-EPI-R Type Unmounted LED Chips," under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The subject merchandise was entered on February 21, 1991, and the entry was liquidated on August 16, 1991. The protest was timely filed on September 27, 1991.


The "GAP-EPI-R Type Unmounted LED Chips" ("wafers") are described as gallium phosphate wafers and dice that are imported in "material" form to be used exclusively in the manufacture of Light Emitting Diodes ("LEDs"). After importation the wafers do not undergo any other processing other than being cut to size, wired and encapsulated.

The wafers and dice were classified by the port of Anchorage, Alaska in subheading 8541.40.20, HTSUS, which provides for light- emitting diodes at a duty rate of 2% ad valorem.

The protestant claims that the wafers "are chips only, not complete LED devices," and as such are classifiable under subheading 8541.40.60, HTSUS, which provides for "other diodes," at a Free rate of duty.

The question of classification as a doped chemical element for use in electronics has also been raised.

The subheadings under consideration are as follows:

3818.00.00 Chemical elements doped for use in electronics, in the form of discs, wafers or similar forms; chemical compounds doped for use in electronics: Gallium arsenide wafers, doped (Free)

8541.40.20 Light-emitting diodes: Light-emitting diodes: Light- emitting diodes (LEDs) (2%)

8541.40.60 Light-emitting diodes: Light-emitting diodes: Other diodes (Free)


Whether the unmounted chips are classifiable as "Chemical elements doped for use in electronics," or "LEDs," or "Other diodes," under the HTSUS?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, 7th Edition, (1989), describes the operation of LEDs as follows:

Recombination or injection electroluminescence was first observed in 1923 by Lossew, who found that when point electrodes were placed on certain silicon carbide crystals and current passed through them, light was often emitted. Explanation of this emission has been possible only with the development of semiconductor theory. If minority charge carriers are injected into a semiconductor, i.e., electrons are injected into p-type material or "positive holes" into n- type material, they recombine spontaneously with the majority carriers existing in the material. If some of these recombinations result in the emission of radiation, electroluminescence results.

The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Vol. 10, (1987), page 61, further delineates:

Some of the most commonly used light-emitting diode structures are shown in Fig. 2 [page 62]. The metal-flanged, single- lead design (Fig 2a) is very rugged and easy to insert; the lead- frame package (Fig. 2b) can easily incorporate built-in voltage regulators so that the light-emitting diodes can be operated over a range of input voltages such as 3-15 V. Some packages have provisions to focus or redistribute the light, such as the lead frame with a built-in reflector (Fig. 2c).

Subheading 8541.40.20, HTSUS, provides for: "Light-emitting diodes (LED's)."

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs), to heading 8541, page 1399, state:

(C) Light Emitting Diodes

Light emitting diodes, or electroluminescent diodes, (based, inter alia, on gallium arsenide or gallium phosphide) are devices which convert electric energy into visible, infra- red or ultra-violet rays. They are used, e.g., for displaying or transmitting data in control systems.

Customs has considered the classification of seventeen different models of LEDs previously in HQ 088495, dated April 12, 1991. All seventeen models of LEDs considered in HQ 088495 were complete devices ("structures" or "packages") containing a resistor, wiring leads, and a housing. They were complete and ready for installation.

Whereas, the instant wafers merely consist of the LED chemical material, in bulk, uncut form, consisting of a 2" diameter wafer. Therefore, in order to become finished LEDs, it is necessary to cut the LED wafer into many precisely sized chips, mount them, wire them, and house them.

In their imported state, these wafers are not identifiable as LEDs in any other way than their chemical composition. Furthermore, it is unlikely that these wafers would possess the common or commercial designation of an "unfinished LED."

GRI 2(a) provides guidance for the classification of incomplete and unfinished articles. It states, in pertinent part:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article....

It is our opinion that the imported wafer does not possess the essential character of a complete LED, due to the significance and
number of the missing parts and due to its elemental stage of advancement. In fact, the instant merchandise does not have the essential character of a "diode" at all. Therefore, it is not classifiable under the provision for "Other diodes" as argued by the protestant.

At its present stage of advancement, at importation, the instant merchandise is nothing more than a chemical element doped for use in electronics and is classifiable in subheading 3818.00.00, HTSUS.


The Showa Denko America "GAP-EPI-R Type Unmounted LED Chips" are classifiable in subheading 3818.00.00, HTSUS, as chemical elements doped for use in electronics, in the form of discs, wafers or similar forms. The rate of duty is Free.

Since reclassification of the merchandise as indicated above will result in the same rate of duty as the claimed classification, you should allow 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.


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