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HQ 956965

December 13, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 956965 ch


TARIFF NO.: 5111.30.0500

George Gallegos
St. James Textiles
5435 Balboa Boulevard
Suite 110
Encino, California 91316

RE: Classification of billiard table fabrics; part; material; unfinished articles; GRI 2(a).

Dear Mr. Gallegos:

This is in response to your letter of August 22, 1994, requesting tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for certain billiard table fabrics. Samples were provided to this office for examination.


You have provided this office with the following background information:

Common practice within the billiard industry is for billiard table manufacturers to ship partially assembled billiard tables to their respective distributors throughout the country. The core parts of the tables are shipped together, which includes the slate, rails, legs and main table assembly. This is done for two reasons. The first is to lower shipping costs and the second is to allow the distributors to offer custom features on the tables, such as different colored billiard cloth and custom fitted pockets. As a result, billiard distributors purchase whole rolls of billiard fabric to accommodate the various sizes of billiard tables. There are approximately 9 (nine) different sizes of pool tables, each requiring a different size of billiard fabric and approximately 20 different colors of billiard fabric. As a result, a billiard distributor cannot stock cut pieces of every type and color fabric for each size of table. Therefore, the billiard fabric is only cut when the distributor sells a finished table. The fabrics and pockets are then installed at the table's place of use.

The billiard fabric industry is composed of four main segments. There are specific billiard fabric products which have been developed for use in specific or all segments. Each of our billiard fabrics has been designed to comply with essential industry criteria. A complete listing of this criteria and technical specifications are listed below:


3043 Content: 60% wool, 40 % polyester
Weight: 350 gm/mtr2
Weight: 18 oz/yd
Finish: Non-directional, medium-high speed ball

3066 Content: 75% wool, 25% nylon
Weight: 350 gm/mtr2
Weight: 18 oz/yd
Finish: Non-directional, medium-low ball speed

3078 Content: 75% wool, 25% nylon
Weight: 400 gm/mtr2
Weight: 21 oz/yd
Finish: Non-directional, medium-ball speed

The four segments are listed below with the current product number(s) which are being used in each segment:


Original Equipment Manufacturer 3043, 3066

Coin Operator 3043, 3066

Commercial Billiard Room 3078

Home 3078


Whether the billiard table fabrics are classifiable in subheading 5111.30.0500, HTSUS, which provides for woven fabrics of carded wool or carded fine animal hair: other, mixed mainly or solely with man-made staple fibers: tapestry fabrics and upholstery fabrics of a weight exceeding 300 g/m2; or subheading 9504.20.8000, HTSUS, which provides for parts and accessories for billiards?


As you recognize, Customs regards billiard table fabric as an upholstery fabric of heading 5111, HTSUS. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 088129, dated January 24, 1991. Consequently, you concede that the instant fabrics are prima facie classifiable in this heading. However, you contend that the fabrics are also described by subheading 9504.20.8000, HTSUS, which provides for parts and accessories for billiards. On this basis, you conclude that the merchandise is classifiable in two headings. Therefore, classification must be effected according to the rules of specificity, essential character or numerical order set forth in General Rule of Interpretation 3, HTSUS.

Textile fabrics are regarded as materials and have a number of potential applications. On the other hand, a part has been processed to the point where it is an article suitable for use solely or principally with a given object (e.g. a billiard table). In light of this distinction, we do not agree that the provisions for both upholstery fabric and parts for billiards describe the merchandise. Rather, the issue presented is whether the billiard fabric imported in the piece should be regarded as a material or an article for classification purposes.

General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 2(a) states in part that:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

Thus, if the fabric has the "essential character" of an article which is a component for a billiard table, it may be classified as a part.

In making this "essential character" determination, we are mindful of judicial authority pertaining to the distinction between materials and articles. In United States v. Buss & Co., 5 Ct. Cust. Appls. 110, 113 (1914), the Court stated that:

The rule expressed by the decisions just cited recognizes the fact that most small articles are not produced as individual or separate products of the loom, but for economy of manufacture are first woven "in the piece." The rule of decision is therefore established that where such articles are imported in the piece and nothing remains to be done except to cut them apart they shall be treated for dutiable purposes as if already cut apart and assessed according to their individual character or identity. This follows, however, only in case the character or identity of the individual articles is fixed with certainty and in case the woven piece in its entirety is not commercially capable of any other use.

This passage indicates that a bolt of fabric may be classified as an article if the sole remaining processing operation is to cut the fabric apart. However, this is so only if the fabric "is not commercially capable of any other use" and "the character or identity of the individual articles is fixed with certainty."

In Coraggio Design, Inc. v. United States, 12 CIT 143 (1988), rolls of woven drapery fabric measuring 118 inches wide by 50 yards long were imported from Italy. The fabric incorporated a hem on the bottom portion of the roll. In that decision, the Court stated:

The Court finds that the production step of inserting the "Continental hem" comports with the first part of the Buss rule in that the addition of the hem dedicates the material in question for use solely as a drapery, commercially unsuitable for any other use. The imported merchandise fails to satisfy the second requirement of Buss, however, since the addition of the hem does not fix the identity of an individual drapery with certainty. It is well settled that "no matter how close the importation is to the finished article or how dedicated it is to a single use, it remains a material until the identity of actual articles can be seen emerging with certainty from the undifferentiated material." (Citations omitted).

The subject merchandise is imported in rolls or bolts; the sizes and shapes of the draperies will vary according to the orders received; and the fabric is sold by the yard. A specific drapery cannot be seen emerging from the fabric. Rather, there remain significant processing steps after importation: the drapery fabric must be cut according to specifications; side hems, crinoline, and pleats must be added; and the drapery must be folded.

Thus, the Court conceded that the fabric was dedicated for use as drapes. However, the fabric was not classifiable as an unfinished article as the identity of the article had not been fixed. Specifically, the outline of the individual drapes was not evident in the imported rolls. Furthermore, significant processing steps, such as cutting to specific size, the addition of side hems, crinoline and pleats, were executed after importation. Accordingly, the fabric was classifiable as a material for classification purposes.

The merchandise at issue in Coraggio is substantially similar to the instant billiard table fabrics. For the sake of argument, we will assume that the fabrics are incapable of any use other than as upholstery for billiard tables. However, we note that there are no lines of demarcation to indicate the outline of individual billiard tables. Consequently, the identity of the finished component has not been fixed with certainty at the time of importation. Furthermore, you state that the fabrics are imported in the piece for the very purpose of accommodating several sizes of billiard tables for various segments of the billiard industry. As a result, the fabrics must be cut to specific size and otherwise modified after importation.

It should be noted that judicial authority in this area was decided under the prior tariff, the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS). Therefore, these cases are not dispositive of the outcome under the HTSUS. However, they are instructive to the extent that both the TSUS and the HTSUS contain related provisions for the classification of unfinished articles.

At the time of importation, the billiard table fabrics are materials which have a number of potential applications. The fabrics do not possess lines of demarcation dedicating them to a particular size or shape. Hence, they have not been processed to the point that they may be regarded as parts for finished tables. Therefore, we conclude that the rolls of billiard fabric do not possess the essential character of an unfinished article pursuant to GRI 2(a). Accordingly, the billiard table fabrics are classifiable as an upholstery fabric of heading 5111, HTSUS.


The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 5111.30.0500, HTSUS, which provides for woven fabrics of carded wool or of carded fine animal hair: other, mixed mainly or solely with man-made staple fibers: tapestry fabrics and upholstery fabrics of a weight exceeding 300 g/m2. The applicable rate of duty is 7 percent ad valorem. The textile quota category is 414.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are the subject of frequent negotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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