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HQ 957243





February 16, 1995

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 957243 LTO

CATEGORY: CLASSIFICATION

TARIFF NO.: 8520.20.00

Mr. George N. Grammas
Gardner, Carton & Douglas
1301 K Street, NW
Suite 900, East Tower
Washington, D.C. 20005

RE: Digital telephone answering machines; EN 85.20; HQ 555819; NY 864042

Dear Mr. Grammas:

This is in response to your letter of October 28, 1994, requesting, on behalf of Geotek Communications, Inc., the classification of digital telephone answering machines under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

FACTS:

The articles in question are referred to as "Bogen Answering Machines," which are digital telephone answering machines. The machines record messages digitally on a silicon chip, rather than on a magnetic tape. They are wall-mountable and measure 8 inches by 6 inches by 2.5 inches. Voice messages and announcements are recorded in a digital format in memory called, "Audio Random Access Memory." The digital information is converted back to voice for playback. The machines connect to one or two telephone lines, depending on the model, using standard modular telephone jacks. To retrieve voice messages, a user must listen to messages played over the machine's built-in speaker or call in from a remote location, like most standard answering machines.

The answering machines are used to record and playback voice messages. The machines accept messages for up to four to six different people (depending on the model) and can play up to three announcements. A user screening calls can listen to the message as it is recorded, interrupt the answering machine to take the call, and, at any time, place the call on hold (during which time the answering machine will play music if connected to - 2 -
a music source). A user can also record a message on the machine for another user.

The machines require standard telephone line features that can be obtained from the common carrier, such as three-way calling. When the telephone lines are properly configured, the machines can automatically forward a call to another telephone number at a remote location, to a pager or cellular telephone. In addition, they can detect a facsimile or data transmission and digitally record the transmission or direct the transmission to the fax/PC output jack.

The face of the answering machines include: a display panel and function selection buttons to select, activate and define functions; a microphone, speaker and volume control to record greetings and to listen to messages; a message LED to indicate whether messages have been left; and a message push button to initiate playback of messages.

The back of the machines include: a power input; a memory expansion module cover (to upgrade from 18 minutes of voice memory to 36 minutes); a modular jack to connect to the incoming telephone line and a modular jack to connect to the telephone set (a second pair of jacks is provided for a two line system); a modular jack to connect to a fax machine or PC; and a "music-on- hold" stereo input and volume control.

ISSUE:

Whether the Bogen digital telephone answering machines are classifiable under heading 8520, HTSUS, which provides for other sound recording apparatus.

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 . . . ."

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).

Heading 8520, HTSUS, provides for magnetic tape recorders and other sound recording apparatus, whether or not incorporating
a sound reproducing device. EN 85.20, pg. 1368, states that heading 8520, HTSUS, "covers all sound recording apparatus, whatever the purpose for which it is intended . . . . The heading also includes sound recording apparatus, incorporating a sound reproducing device." EN 85.20, pg. 1369, further states that the heading covers combined sound recording and reproducing apparatus, including "[t]elephone answering machines designed to operate in conjunction with a telephone set (but not forming an integral part of the set) to transmit a message previously recorded by the telephone subscriber and to record messages left by the caller (by means of an integral sound recording device) (emphasis in original)."

The Bogen digital telephone answering machines are designed to operate in conjunction with a telephone set to transmit a recorded message and to record messages left by the caller. The machines, which record the messages digitally on a silicon chip, rather than on a magnetic tape, are sound recording apparatus incorporating a sound reproducing device. They are therefore classifiable under heading 8520, HTSUS, specifically under subheading 8520.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for telephone answering machines. See HQ 555819, dated October 11, 1991; NY 864042, dated June 27, 1991.

HOLDING:

The Bogen digital telephone answering machines are classifiable under subheading 8520.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for telephone answering machines. The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 3.1% ad valorem.

Sincerely,

John Durant, Director

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