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HQ 955027

February 28, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955027 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 8523.20.00

Ms. Janice Casper
Traffic Manager
IOMEGA Corporation
1821 West 4000 South
Roy, Utah 84067

RE: Automatic Data Processing Hard Disk Cartridges; Prepared Unrecorded Media; Common and Commercial Identity; Ameliotex, Inc. v. United States; Esco Mfg. Co. v. United States; Simmon Omega, Inc. v. United States; Trans-Atlantic Co. v. United States

Dear Ms. Casper:

This is in response to your letter to U.S. Customs, New York Seaport, dated August 11, 1993, requesting the classification of ADP Hard Disk Cartridges, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was forwarded to this office for reply.


IOMEGA manufactures disk drives and removable, interchangeable disk cartridges. Unlike conventional hard disks, which are permanently fixed in the disk drive assembly, these disk cartridges may be removed from one disk drive and inserted into another, or may be securely stored elsewhere. The instant disk cartridges are similar to 3.5 inch disks in that they merely consist of a magnetic disk in a hard plastic enclosure, and a disk hub.

The disks are prepared with certain servowriting data which contains operating information such as a sector map, information regarding disk parameters, and diagnostic information.


What is the classification of the subject ADP disk cartridges, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (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...

It has been argued that the formatting, error mapping, etc., which prepares the disk to receive user data, merits a change in classification from "prepared unrecorded media" (subheading 8523.20.00, HTSUS) to "recorded media" (subheading 8524.90.40, HTSUS).

However, all of the recorded data has one purpose, and that is to prepare the unrecorded media to store user data. Furthermore, the formatting, error mapping, etc., do not change the commercial identity of the disk cartridges as prepared unrecorded media.
"The tariff schedules are written in the language of commerce, and the terms used are to be given their commercial or common meaning." See Ameliotex, Inc. v. United States, 65 CCPA 22, 25, C.A.D. 1200, 565 F.2d 674, 677 (1977); Esco Mfg. Co. v. United States, 63 CCPA 71, 73 C.A.D. 1167, 530 F.2d 949, 951 (1976).

The fact that the instant disk cartridges may have more complex or substantial preparations than 3.5 inch disks or floppy disks is due solely to the fact that these disk cartridges are designed to store a larger amount of user data. See Simmon Omega, Inc. v. United States, 83 Cust. Ct. 14, C.D. 4815 (1979), and Trans-Atlantic Co. v. United States, 471 F. 2d 1397, 60 CCPA 100, C.A.D. 1088 (1973), in which the courts have held that technological advancements and "improvement in the design of an article does not militate against its continuing to be a form of the named articles."

Most "blank" disks sold today have been prepared with formatting. However, formatting does not change their commercial identity or classification to recorded media. Similarly, no other operations which are designed to "prepare" the media to receive user data will change the classification from "prepared unrecorded media...."


The subject IOMEGA automatic data processing removeable hard disk cartridges are classifiable in subheading 8523.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for: "[p]repared unrecorded media for sound recording or similar recording of other phenomena, other than
products of chapter 37: [m]agnetic disks." The rate of duty is 4.2 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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