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HQ 955426

April 14, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955426 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 9017.20.80

Area Director
U.S. Customs Service
6 World Trade Center, Room 423
New York, NY 10048

RE: Protest 1001-92-106531; Computer Styluses; Drawing Instruments; Digitizers; HQ 082127; Section XVI, Note 1(m); 8471.92.10; 8473.30.40

Dear Area Director:

The following is our decision regarding Protest 1001-92- 106531 concerning your action in classifying and assessing duty on computer styluses under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise consists of computer styluses (model no. MM2). The stylus, which is a digitizer, is an instrument used to translate information into digital form for transmission and input to an automatic data processing (ADP) machine. It is used with a flat working surface (digitizing tablet), and is utilized with an ADP machine in place of a keyboard to perform two basic functions: the conversion of data from analog to digitized form, and the input of such data into the ADP machine.

The stylus is a pen-like device which is activated by pressing down on its tip. Because of its resemblance to a pen or pencil, it permits more natural input of drawing or tracing data. It is capable of several specialized applications when used with an ADP machine and the appropriate software, including encoding and transferring data, drawings or tracings to the host ADP machine. This application is important to computer-aided engineering and computer-aided design (CAE/CAD), computer-aided publishing (CAP), graphic arts, and scientific analysis.

The digitizing tablet has a defined space upon which the user can place either a template or a drawing, map, blueprint, x-ray, etc. The stylus is used to "point to" particular areas within the active area and this triggers the transmission of X,Y coordinate data from the tablet to the computer application being run. The stylus utilizes two types of technology: electromagnetic induction and electrostatic technology; electromagentic induction more preferable because of its greater resolution and accuracy.

The styluses were entered under subheading 8473.30.40, HTSUS, as [a]ccessories of the machines of heading 8471, HTSUS. The entry was liquidated on October 16, 1992, under subheading 8471.92.10, HTSUS, as combined input/output units. The protest was timely filed on October 26, 1992.

The subheadings under consideration are as follows:

8471.92.10: [a]utomatic data processing machines and units thereof . . . : [i]nput or output units, whether or not entered with the rest of a system and whether or not containing storage units in the same housing: [c]ombined input/ output units.

The general, column one rate of duty for goods classifiable under this provision is 3.7 percent ad valorem.

8473.30.40: [p]arts and accessories . . . suitable for use solely or principally with machines of headings 8469 to 8472: [p]arts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471: [n]ot incorporating a cathode ray tube.

Goods classifiable under this provision receive duty-free treatment.

9017.20.80: [d]rawing, marking-out or mathematical calculating instruments . . . : [o]ther drawing, marking-out or mathematical calculating instruments: [o]ther.

The general, column one rate of duty for goods classifiable under this provision is 5.8 percent ad valorem.


Whether the styluses are classifiable under subheading 8471.92.10, HTSUS, as combined input/output units, under subheading 8473.30.40, HTSUS, as accessories of the machines of heading 8471, HTSUS, or under subheading 9017.20.80, HTSUS, as other drawing instruments.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

In HQ 082127, October 16, 1989, we dealt with the classification of digitizers under the HTSUS. In that ruling, we stated that:

[o]nly digitizers embodying technology that provides at least a certain degree of accuracy can be considered designed for use as drawing instruments. . . To determine which digitizers are designed for drawing and which are designed as general input devices, Customs conducted extensive inquiries with various producers. . . To determine the appropriate classification it is necessary to examine each digitizer carefully to determine the use for which it was designed. Once it is determined that a digitizer utilizes one of the technologies necessary to create accurate drawings (electromagnetic induction, electrostatic technology, or similar technologies), it must be determined that this precision is not intended to be utilized for non-drawing purposes. Such an intent to use for drawing purposes can be presumed when the digitizer utilizes a crosshair sight or a large tablet.

In "MacWeek" magazine (p. 249, April 24, 1990), the impact of styluses for drawing purposes is discussed. In part, the article states that:

[t]he tablets parallel the artist's sketch pad, and the penlike styluses . . . act as the drawing instruments. Like real pens, styluses . . . indicate absolute positions on the screen corresponding to underlying absolute positions on the tablet. . . The stylus also offers a more natural way to draw . . .

It is our position that, based upon the test outlined in HQ 082127, and the views of the computer industry, the subject styluses are classifiable as under subheading 9017.20.80, as other drawing instruments. The importer claims that the styluses are used for the purposes of drawing (supported by the "MacWeek" article), the styluses incorporate electromagnetic induction and electrostatic technology, a tablet is used so the styluses can be used to draw, and there is no evidence that the subject styluses will be utilized for non-drawing purposes.

We note that, although having no legal significance, one of the statistical breakouts under subheading 9017.20.80, HTSUS, provides for digitizers.

Section XVI, note 1(m), HTSUS, states that:

[t]his section does not cover:

(m) Articles of chapter 90.

Because the styluses are classifiable under chapter 90, HTSUS, they are precluded from classification under chapter 84, HTSUS.


The model MM2 styluses are classifiable under subheading 9017.10.80, HTSUS, as other drawing instruments.

Because the rate of duty under the classification indicated above is more than the liquidated rate, you are instructed to deny the protest in full. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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