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HQ 953456

FEBRUARY 25 1994

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 953456 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8516.50.00

Mr. Peter J. Gartland, Esq.
Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

RE: Microwave/Convection Oven; Tabletop Oven With Microwave Cooking Feature and Convection Cooking Feature; Microwave Oven; Microwave Oven Combination, Subheading 8516.60.40; Composite Machine, Principal Function, Section XVI, Note 3, HTSUS; HQ 086463

Dear Mr. Gartland:

In your letter of February 9, 1993, supplemented on July 13 and October 20, 1993, on behalf of Sharp Electronics Corporation, you inquire as to the tariff classification of certain combination microwave/convection ovens.


The ovens in issue, models R-9H84 and R-9H94, are single cavity electric ovens that possess both microwave and convection cooking features. Submitted literature describes tabletop ovens that measure 16 1/8in. x 9 5/8in. x 16 1/8in., weigh 60 lbs., and have a capacity of 1.5 cu. ft. The ovens are capable of cooking in three separate and distinct ways utilizing a single control panel, i.e., as a microwave oven, as a convection oven, or as a broiler. The microwave feature cooks using electronics, not applied heat. It defrosts, heats, reheats and cooks foods utilizing a magnetron tube to convert household electrical (120V) energy into high-frequency microwaves that reflect off the walls of the oven. These waves cook the food by agitating the water molecules in it, creating frictional heat. The convection feature bakes, roasts, browns or broils foods utilizing a high- speed fan to circulate electrical resistive heat. The microwave and convection features can also be used in combination as the two features cycle on and off at a variety of preprogrammed settings. When used in this mode, the convection feature is always used first. The literature suggests that because of - 2 -
voltage requirements the two features never operate simultaneously.

In a Protest Review Decision dated June 27, 1990, issued as HQ 086463, we held, with respect to earlier models of Sharp combination microwave/convection ovens, that the microwave feature performed the principal function. We classified the machines in subheading 8516.50.00, HTSUS, a provision for microwave ovens. You maintain that the provision for microwave oven combinations, in subheading 8516.60.40, HTSUS, represents the correct classification. You submit excerpts from the cookbook packaged and sold with the models R-9H84 and 94 as evidence that the total of convection-only and combination convection-microwave applications exceeds the microwave-only applications. You cite this as evidence that the microwave feature of these ovens does not perform the principal function. In addition, you submit a report of the results of a survey of users of these ovens which purports to support the same conclusion. Moreover, you claim that price data indicating consumers pay nearly twice as much for these machines as for microwave ovens of the same or comparable size is evidence that the microwave feature does not perform the principal function. Finally, you contend that if a principal function cannot be determined it is appropriate to classify the ovens in the subheading that occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration, in accordance with General Interpretative Rule 3(c), HTSUS.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8516 [o]ther electrothermic appliances of a kind used for domestic purposes

8516.50.00 Microwave ovens...4 percent

8516.60.40 Cooking stoves, ranges and ovens ...Free


Whether the microwave feature or the convection feature of the Sharp oven models R-9H84 and 94 represents their principal function.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the - 3 -

General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 6 states in part that for legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, by appropriate substitution of terms, to GRIs 1 through 5, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of Rule 6, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context requires otherwise.

The combination microwave/convection ovens in issue are composite machines which, according to Section XVI, Rule 3, consecutively or simultaneously perform separate functions which are generally complementary. Such machines are to be classified according to the component that performs the principal function. For this reason, it is appropriate to compare the ovens' microwave function against their convection function, and not their convection-only function plus their combination cooking functions against their microwave-only function. In our opinion, the submitted survey evidence is not helpful in resolving the issue of principal function because the conclusion reached is that the combination use is dominant.

The fact that both functions may be used consecutively in cooking certain kinds of foods does not negate the possibility that one function predominates. As we stated in HQ 086463, the microwave component is the more versatile of the two. It is capable of boiling water or heating soups, as well as defrosting frozen foods and popping popcorn, which are functions the convection function cannot perform. The microwave is often used independently to cook a variety of prepared foods or even entire meals quickly, where browning is not required.

Our independent research on microwave/convection ovens indicates that statisticly, only 3 to 5 percent of U.S. households own a combination microwave/convection unit. While the convection feature is favored for its baking and browning capability the microwave feature is highly desired for its cooking speed, reduced clean-up time and lower energy consumption. In today's modern homes it is not uncommon to cook entire meals on weekends, using both features, then to defrost and reheat individual portions during the week using the microwave feature. The microwave feature would likewise appeal to teenagers and inexperienced cooks uncomfortable with combination cooking. Based on total number of times each - 4 -
component may be used during a given period, the microwave feature clearly predominates.

Catalogs, brochures and advertising literature are not dispositive of the way goods are classified under the HTSUS, but are probative of the way importers view the merchandise and of the market they are trying to reach. THK America, Inc. v. United States, Slip Op. 93-207, decided November 1, 1993. The literature submitted for these models contains the following expression "Heading the impressive line-up of easy-to-use features is ESP Sensor Cook, which automatically determines cooking times and power levels for 8 varieties of microwave favorites." Finally, literature from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers indicates that microwave ovens with browning (convection) elements are to be classified statistically as if that feature were not present.

After fully and carefully considering all available evidence, it is our opinion that in terms of convenience and frequency of use it is the microwave component of these combination ovens that performs the principal function.


Under the authority of GRI 1, made applicable at the subheading level by GRI 6, the Sharp combination microwave/ convection oven models R-9H84 and R-9H94 are provided for in heading 8516 as other electrothermic appliances of a kind used for domestic purposes. They are classifiable as microwave ovens, in subheading 8516.50.00, HTSUS, dutiable at the rate of 4 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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