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HQ 558800

January 26, 1995

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:S 558800 DEC


Ms. Debbie DePue
Vice President Marketing
Miracle Point
P.O. Box 71
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60039

RE: Country of origin marking for pliers; Close proximity; 19 CFR 134.43;
19 CFR 134.24; 19 CFR 134.46

Dear Madam:

This is in response to your letter dated September 20, 1994, concerning the acceptability of the proposed country of origin marking of your company's product packages containing Miracle Point Pliers.


Miracle Point imports plier blanks from Pakistan for the purpose of applying its patented sharpening process, finishing, and packaging for sale to retailers. The pliers are marked "Pakistan". You request a ruling with respect to the propriety of offering the product in packaging which is not marked "Made in Pakistan." You submitted two unfinished sample plier blanks with "Pakistan" etched on the top portion of the pliers just below the gripping portion of the pliers. In addition, you submitted two finished and packaged products. Both of these pliers have "Pakistan" etched on the inside of one of the handles, although the country of origin marking is covered by the black handle covering. The back of the packaging contains words describing the attributes of the Miracle Point Pliers as well as the company's location, Crystal Lake, Illinois. There is no other language on the retail packaging indicating a country of origin of the article. The Miracle Point Pliers are sold at retail in a sealed blister package which the purchaser ordinarily will not open to inspect prior to purchase.


What are the country of origin marking requirements applicable to the piers packaged in the manner described above?


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article. Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. ?1304 was "that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will." United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 297, 302 (1940). Part 134 of the Customs Regulations implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the United States must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain.

Section 134.43 requires that certain types of articles be marked in a specified manner. Pliers are specifically identified in this regulatory provision as articles that must be marked legibly and conspicuously by die stamping, cast-in-the-mold lettering, etching, or engraving. Although pliers are subject to the special marking requirements of section 134.43, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.43), Customs has previously ruled that such articles may be excepted from individual marking if the marking of their containers will satisfy the requirements of 19 CFR 134.32(d). Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 733301, dated August 8, 1990, and HRL 732437, dated October 4, 1989. If the containers are sold without normally being opened by the ultimate purchaser in accordance with 19 CFR 134.24(d)(2), the containers shall be marked to indicate the country of origin of their contents. The special marking requirements of 19 CFR 134.43 would not apply to the Miracle Point Pliers if this were the situation.

The Miracle Point Pliers are sold at retail in a sealed blister package that the ultimate purchaser ordinarily will not open prior to purchasing the product. On the back of the packaging there is a reference to Crystal Lake, Illinois. Section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46), applies to situations in which a locality other than the locality in which an article was manufactured or produced appears on the article or its container. Section 134.46 provides that

In any case in which the words "United States," or "American," the letters "U.S.A.," any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced, appear on an imported article or its container, there shall appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to such words, letters or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by "Made in," "Product of," or other words of similar meaning.

In order to satisfy the country of origin marking requirements, the retail packaging, which contains a reference to Crystal Lake, Illinois, must include a legible statement that is in close proximity and in comparable size to the Illinois reference indicating that the pliers are "made in" or are a "product of" Pakistan. Without this marking, the reference to Crystal Lake, Illinois would likely confuse the ultimate purchaser regarding the origin of the pliers. Customs has held that to be deemed "in close proximity", the country of origin information must be visible simultaneously with the reference to the place other than the country of origin, without any manipulation of the article or container. HRL 730945, dated August 11, 1988.

If the Crystal Lake, Illinois reference is deleted from the packaging, placing a conspicuous and legible country of origin marking (in the manner prescribed by 19 CFR 134.43) on the top side of the pliers that could be easily read through the blister packaging would be a sufficient marking. The placement of the country of origin marking on the inside of the handle of the Miracle Point Pliers that is covered by the molded plastic handle covering is not conspicuous. It is impossible for an ultimate purchaser to ascertain the country of origin of this product without removing the article from its blister package and sliding the handle cover off to reveal the hidden country of origin marking that is etched into the handle of the pliers.


The retail packaging that includes a reference to "Crystal Lake, Illinois" on the back of the package should also include, in close proximity to such words, and in at least a comparable size, a legible and permanent reference to the pliers' country of origin (Pakistan) preceded by "made in", "product of", or words of similar meaning. If the words "Crystal Lake, Illinois" are deleted from the packaging, legibly marking the pliers by die stamping, cast-in-the mold lettering, etching or engraving so that the country of origin can be easily read through the blister packaging is acceptable.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer.


John Durant
Director, Commercial Rulings Division

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