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HQ 958054

SEPTEMBER 26, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:M 958054 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 9010.20.60

Area Director of Customs
JFK Airport, Building #77
Jamaica, NY 11430

RE: PRD 1001-94-102720; Step-and-Repeat Machine, Machine for Making Image-Carrying Printing Plates, Machinery for Preparing or Making Printing Plates, Heading 8442; Photographic Apparatus; HQ 083123, HQ 950665, HQ 952345

Dear Area Director:

This is our decision on Protest 1001-94-102720 filed against your classification of certain step-and-repeat machines for making image-carrying printing plates by the photomechanical method. The plates are later developed and used in printing presses. The entry under protest was liquidated on March 11, 1994, and this protest timely filed on April 19, 1994.


The step-and-repeat machine under protest, the Formstepper 350 Autoload, enables one image to be repeated numerous times on a light-sensitive plate so that its entire capacity can be utilized. The tariff status of different models of this machine was addressed in HQ 950665, dated January 10, 1992, and HQ 952345, November 9, 1993, the contents of which are incorporated by reference in this decision. Machines of this type utilize a microprocessor to horizontally and vertically move or "step" single or multiple negatives produced by a photographic camera to different areas on the same plate and then repeat the exposure. The transparencies make contact with the plate at each new location by vacuum and are exposed to light. Business forms, coupons, labels and tags, etc. are mass-produced using this method. These machines have no lenses, prisms, mirrors or other optical elements.

The machines were entered under the provision for machinery, apparatus, and equipment for typesetting or composing by other processes, in subheading 8442.20.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). However, protestant offers no - 2 -
arguments in support of this classification. The entry was liquidated under the provision for other apparatus and equipment for photographic laboratories, in subheading 9010.20.60, HTSUS.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8442.20.00 Machinery, apparatus and equipment for typesetting or composing by other processes, with or without founding device...Free

9010.20.60 Other apparatus and equipment for photographic laboratories, other
...3.7 percent


Whether these machines are classifiable in chapter 90; if not, whether they are machines for typesetting or for preparing or making printing plates of heading 8442.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Initially, articles of chapter 90 are not covered by section XVI (which includes heading 8442). Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS. Therefore, if the machines in issue are provided for in heading 9010, or in any other provision of chapter 90, they are not covered by heading 8442.

Relevant ENs at p. 1237 indicate that heading 8442 excludes photographic cameras, photographic enlargers or reducers, photographic contact printers and similar photographic apparatus for preparing printing plates or cylinders (Emphasis added). The notes refer this merchandise to chapter 90.

The issue is whether the machines in issue may be photographic apparatus within the cited ENs. In the absence of contrary legislative intent, tariff terms are to be construed in accordance with their common and commercial meanings which are presumed to be the same. Various dictionaries agree that the term photography means "The art or process of producing images on sensitized surfaces by the action of light or more generally, of any form of radiant energy." The common meaning of a tariff term is always a matter of law. After reviewing numerous lexicographic sources and previous court cases, the Customs Court in St. Regis Paper Co., v. United States, 11 CIT 601 (1987), adopted the same broad definition in connection with its deliberations on the meaning of the provision in item 252.05, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), basic paper to be sensitized for use in photography. Finally, in a different context, the word "photographic" is defined for purposes of photographic or cinematographic goods of HTS chapter 37 as "relating to a process which permits the formation of visible images directly or indirectly by the action of light or other forms of radiation on sensitive surfaces."

We are satisfied from this discussion that the step-and- repeat machines in issue here, which image printing plates as described, perform a photographic function for tariff purposes. In so concluding, we note that there is no indication that these machines utilize a contact type photocopying or thermocopying process as required for classification in heading 9009.

We have ruled previously that because the term laboratory is broadly defined, heading 9010 is not restricted to photographic apparatus and equipment used in a particular place. See HQ 083123, dated December 18, 1989.

The machines in issue here are apparatus and equipment for photographic laboratories of heading 9010. This precludes classification of the machines in heading 8442.


Under GRI 1, the step-and-repeat machines in issue are provided for in heading 9010. They are classifiable in subheading 9010.20.60, HTSUS, other apparatus and equipment for photographic laboratories.

The protest should be DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you should mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing 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 to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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