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HQ 955413


May 18, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955413 LTO

CATEGORY: CLASSIFICATION

TARIFF NO.: 8473.30.10; 8473.30.35; 8534.00.00

Ms. Peggy Nguyen
Apple Computer, Inc.
20525 Mariani Avenue
Cupertino, California 95014

RE: Flexible Circuit Assemblies; heading 8536; heading 8544; EN 85.34; EN 85.44; section XVI, note 2; chapter 85, note 4

Dear Ms. Nguyen:

This is in response to your letter of February 21, 1993, to Customs in New York, requesting the classification of flexible circuit assemblies under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). You also submitted a letter dated November 3, 1993, which contained additional information concerning the assemblies in question. Both letters were referred to this office for a response.

FACTS:

The articles in question are referred to as Flexible Circuit Assemblies (Part 630-5241, 630-0534, 630-6272), which are used in the manufacture of Apple's personal computers (PCs). The country of origin of these assemblies is either Japan or Thailand. The assemblies are described as follows:

Part No. Description
630-5241 Flexible Circuit Assembly with thermistor for PC, Battery

630-0534 Flexible Circuit Assembly for PC, Hard Drive

630-6272 Flexible Circuit Assembly for PC, Display - 2 -

The assemblies consist of a flexible circuit (tracings in a polyamide material), a strip of stiffener on at least one end of the connector, and silver-coated fingers which serve as a male connector, on at least one side of the assembly. In addition, part 630-5241 has two thermistors soldered to one end and adhesive to allow the assembly to be attached to a battery. Part 630-0534 has an adhesive strip in the middle of the assembly and an electronic connector at one end. Part 630-6272 has two flat ferrite beads glued around the flexible circuit. You state that all of the assemblies are designed and dedicated exclusively for use as part of Apple's PCs and perform the function of processing signals and power between the computer logic board and the internal hard drive disk, battery or flat panel display.

In part 630-5241, the thermistors monitor the heat of the battery system, and generate a DC-level signal which changes amplitude very slowly with the temperature. This monitors the heat of the battery and identifies the useful life. A Mitsubishi 50753 microcontroller receives and processes the signal generated by the thermistor assembly, and automatically shuts off the computer when necessary. Part 630-0534 is attached to the PC's hard drive and logic board. It transmits both data and power between the disk drive and logic board. Part 630-6272 transmits video signals from the logic board to the display. The ferrite beads are used to minimize electromagnetic interference with the video signal and prevents the video signal from exceeding FCC limits.

ISSUE:

Whether the Flexible Circuit Assemblies are classifiable as parts of automatic data processing (ADP) machines under heading 8473, HTSUS.

LAW AND ANALYSIS:

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 that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ."

You contend that the Flexible Circuit Assemblies are classifiable as parts of ADP machines under heading 8473, HTSUS. Note 2 to section XVI governs the classification of parts in chapters 84 and 85. Note 2(a) provides as follows:

(a) Parts which are goods included in any of the headings of chapters 84 and 85 (other than 8485 and 8548) are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings.

Accordingly, if the assemblies are goods included in any chapter 84 or 85 heading, they cannot be classified as parts under heading 8473, HTSUS.

Heading 8534, HTSUS, provides for printed circuits. Note 4 to chapter 85, HTSUS, states that for the purposes of heading 8534, HTSUS, "'printed circuits' are circuits obtained by forming on an insulated base, by any printing process (for example, embossing, plating-up, etching) or by the 'film circuit' technique, conductor elements, contacts or other printed components (for example inductances, resistors, capacitors) alone or interconnected according to a pre-established pattern, other than elements which can produce, rectify, modulate or amplify an electrical signal (for example, semiconductor elements)." The note further states that "[t]he term 'printed circuits' does not cover circuits combined with elements other than those obtained during the printing process. Printed circuits may, however, be fitted with non- printed connecting elements."

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Co-operation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

EN 85.34, pg. 1386, provides that, in accordance with note 4 to chapter 85, heading 8534, HTSUS, covers:
circuits which are made by forming on an insulated base, by any printing process (conventional printing or embossing, plating-up, etching, etc.), conductor elements (wiring), contacts or other printed components such as inductances, resistors and capacitors ("passive" elements), other than elements which can produce, rectify, detect, modulate or amplify electric signals, such as diodes, triodes or other "active" elements.

Because they are combined with elements other than those obtained during the printing process, part 630-5241, which is assembled with thermistors, and part 630-6272, which is assembled with ferrite beads, are excluded from heading 8534, HTSUS. However, part 630-0534, which consists of a flexible printed circuit fitted with a non-printed, electric connection at one end, is classified under subheading 8534.00.00, HTSUS.

Part 630-5241 and 630-6272 are also not classifiable under heading 8536, HTSUS, which provides for electrical apparatus for making connections to or in electrical circuits. Because part - 4 -

630-5241 includes thermistors, which are used to monitor the heat of the battery system, and generate a DC-level signal which changes amplitude very slowly with the temperature, and part 630-6272 includes ferrite beads, which are used to minimize electromagnetic interference with the video signal and prevent the video signal from exceeding FCC limits, they are not simply electrical connectors, and therefore, are not covered by the terms of heading 8534, HTSUS.

Heading 8544, HTSUS, provides for insulated wire, cable and other insulated electrical conductors. It is our opinion that electrical conductors printed on rigid or flexible substrate are not the type of conductor contemplated by this heading. EN 85.44, pg. 1404, states that "[p]rovided they are insulated, this heading covers wire, cable and other conductors (e.g., braids, strip, bars) used as conductors in electrical machinery, apparatus or installations [emphasis in original]." The note further lists the type of articles that fall into heading 8544, HTSUS. The one characteristic shared by all of the exemplars--lacquered wire, enamelled wire, anodized wire, telephone cable, telegraph cable, aerial cable, armored underground cables, cables for use in wire shafts, plaited wire, insulated strip and optical fiber cables-- is that they possess at least a single strand of wire. In describing the characteristics of the goods of heading 8544, HTSUS, the note states:

The goods of this heading are made up of the following elements:

(A) A conductor - this may be single strand or multiple, and may be wholly of one metal or of different metals.

EN 85.44 further states that:

The insulated wires, cables, etc., of this heading may be in the form of:

(i) Single or multiple strand insulated wire. (ii) Two or more such insulated wires twisted together.
(iii) Two or more insulated wires assembled together in a common insulating sheath.

Conductor elements printed onto the polyamide-based substrate of the flexible circuit assemblies do not come within the descriptions set forth in EN 85.44. Moreover, a flexible circuit assembly is not a braid, strip or bar, nor is it similar to these articles which are listed as exemplars of "other insulated electric conductors."

Accordingly, part 630-5241 and 630-6272 are not classifiable under heading 8544, HTSUS.

The assemblies in question are designed and dedicated exclusively for use as part of Apple's portable computers. They process signals and power between the computer logic board and the internal hard disk drive, battery or flat panel display. These assemblies are therefore "solely or principally used" with the goods of heading 8471, HTSUS, which provides for automatic data processing machines (ADP) and units thereof. Parts of automatic data processing machines, which are not classifiable according to note 2(a) to section XVI, are classifiable under heading 8473, HTSUS. Accordingly, part 630-5241 and 630-6272 are classifiable either under subheading 8473.30.10, HTSUS, which provides for printed circuit assemblies, other than for power supplies for ADP machines, or subheading 8473.30.35, HTSUS, which provides for printed circuit assemblies for power supplies for ADP machines.

HOLDING:

The Flexible Circuit Assembly for PC, Hard Drive, part 630- 0534, is classifiable under subheading 8534.00.00, HTSUS. The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 5.3% ad valorem.

The Flexible Circuit Assembly with thermistor for PC, Battery, part 630-5241, and Flexible Circuit Assembly for PC, Display, part 630-6272, are classifiable either under subheading 8473.30.10 or 8473.30.35, HTSUS. The corresponding rate of duty for articles of these subheadings is free.

Sincerely,

John Durant, Director

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