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HQ 559806

September 26, 1996

MAR-2-05 RR:TC:SM 559806 DEC


Mr. Leonard L. Fleisig
Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott
2100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037

RE: Country of origin marking of a shovel; 19 CFR 134.46; 19 CFR 134.47;
T.D. 55033(5); T.D. 54707(9); HRL 711069: HRL 723857; 19 CFR 134.43;
19 CFR 134.14

Dear Mr. Fleisig:

This is in response to your letter dated April 24, 1996, requesting a country of origin marking ruling on behalf of your client, True Temper Hardware Company (True Temper) regarding the country of origin marking of an imported metal shovel. A sample shovel was submitted with your request.


The shovel head will be forged in Ireland and will be assembled in the United States with wooden shovel handles and grips that are manufactured in the United States. After importation, the shovel heads will be subjected to a tumbling process in which steel slogs are placed in a barrel with the shovel heads. The barrel will be rotated for 45-90 minutes during which the steel slugs will strike the shovel heads to remove the scaled finish and to polish the surface of the shovel heads. Subsequently, the shovel heads will be straightened and/or ground to pre-assembly specifications. A lacquer coating will then be applied to the shovel heads. The shovel heads will have the die cast marking "MADE IN IRELAND TRUE TEMPER FORGED" which will remain visible for the life of the finished shovel. The wooden shovel handle is then attached to the shovel head. The words "TRUE TEMPER U*S*A* BULLDOG" are painted on the shovel handle. There is a sticker on the shovel head which has product information and the words "TRUE TEMPER BULLDOG PLUS ONE TOUGH LINE" and "U*S*A" in small letters below. The sample shovel handle also has a label which reads "Assembled in USA Handle Made in USA Blade Made in Ireland." You state that True Temper has been considering whether to file an application to register the "True Temper U*S*A*" mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Alternatively, you assert on behalf of True Temper that the logo on its products constitutes a trade name.


Whether the shovel described above satisfies the country of origin marking requirements.


The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304) provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. 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. Inc., 27 CCPA 297, 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940).

In T.D. 55033(5) Customs addressed the marking requirements of various articles including shovels. It was held that "Tools such as ensilage forks, hay forks, manure forks, rakes, hoes, trowels, shovels, spades and scoops imported without handles affixed ... must be legibly and conspicuously marked 'head made in (country of origin)' or 'blade made in (country of origin)' as the case may be." Plainly, it is intended that the marking remain on the implement after its handle has been attached, such that the ultimate purchaser, the user of the finished tool, may be apprised of the country of origin of its essential component, its head, fork, or blade.

In T.D. 54707(9), Customs held that axe heads imported separately or with American-made handles must be marked with the words "Axe Head Made In (country of origin)" or words of similar import. Although the decision did not discuss the substantial transformation principle, it is evident that the underlying rationale was that the attachment of a handle to an axe head does not change the axe head into a new article, or change its country of origin. To similar effect was the determination in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 711069, dated September 20, 1976, in which Customs ruled that foreign origin wooden handles, when combined with axe heads of United States origin, were required to be marked. Customs also ruled that the assembly operation involved in attaching a finished hammer head to a domestic wooden handle does not constitute a substantial transformation of the finished tool. In HRL 723857, dated December 1, 1988, Customs ruled that finished hammer heads imported from Brazil to be assembled to domestic wooden handles in the United States did not constitute a substantial transformation and required the article to be individually marked with the country of origin.

The marking statute (19 U.S.C. 1304) requires articles of foreign origin imported into the United States to be marked to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the name of the country of origin of the article. Products of United States origin are not subject to the country of origin marking requirements set forth in 19 U.S.C. 1304 because they are not considered articles of foreign origin. Accordingly, the indication of the United States as the origin of the handle is not required. Approval of markings such as "Made in the USA" is within the authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Customs is unable to rule as to whether the use of the phrase "Made in USA" is acceptable and we suggest that you contact the FTC Division of Enforcement, 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20508 on the propriety of the proposed marking.

The marking on the label "Assembled in USA" is not acceptable in light of the recent regulatory amendment to section 134.43(e), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.43(e)), published as a final rule in the Federal Register, June 6, 1996 (61 Fed. Reg. 28932). Section 134.43(e) authorizes the use of the marking "Assembled in" only when the country of origin is the country of final assembly. Since Customs has addressed the origin marking requirements of shovels and requires that both the shovel heads and handles be marked to indicate their origin, the country of final assembly, in this case, is not the country of origin of the finished shovel. Therefore, the language on the label "Assembled in USA" is not proper and must be removed from the label.

Customs has recognized that the presence of a geographic location other than the country in which the article was produced on an imported article or its container may mislead the ultimate purchaser as to the true country of origin. Therefore, in cases where the name of a location 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 appears on an imported article or its container, section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46), provides that 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. Customs has ruled that in order to satisfy the close proximity requirement, the country of origin marking must appear on the same side(s) or surface(s) in which the name of the locality other than the country of origin appears. The purpose of this section is to prevent the possibility of misleading or deceiving the ultimate purchaser as to the actual origin of the imported good.

In your submission, you inquire regarding the applicability of section 134.47, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.47). Section 134.47 provides that when as part of a trademark or trade name or as part of a souvenir marking, the name of a location in the United States appears, the article shall be legibly, conspicuously, and permanently marked to indicate the name of the country of origin of the article preceded by "Made in", "Product of", or other similar words, in close proximity or in some other conspicuous location. In other words, if the question concerns a trade name or trademark, the country of origin marking needs only to meet the general standard of conspicuousness.

The purpose of both provisions is the same, namely to prevent the ultimate purchaser from being misled or deceived when the name of a country or place other than the country of origin appears on an imported article or its container. The critical difference between the two provisions is that 19 CFR 134.46 requires that the name of the actual country of origin appear "in close proximity" to the United States reference and in lettering of at least comparable size. By contrast, 19 CFR 134.47 is less stringent, providing that when as part of a trade name, trademark or souvenir mark, the name of a location in the U.S. or "United States" or "America" appears on the imported article, the name of the country of origin must appear in close proximity or "in some other conspicuous location." In other words, the latter provision triggers only a general standard of conspicuousness. In either case, the name of the country of origin must be preceded by "Made in", "Product of", or other similar words.

Here, although the label that appears on the shovel head contains a very small non-origin locality reference, i.e., the letters "U*S*A" below the words "TRUE TEMPER BULLDOG PLUS ONE TOUGH LINE," it is inconspicuous both by its placement on the label and the size of its typeface. In the context in which the letters appear on the label and on the shovel handle, we find that the conspicuous die-cast country of origin marking on the shovel head obviates the likelihood that an ultimate purchaser would be misled or deceived as to the country of origin of the imported article. Accordingly, we find that the special marking requirements of 19 CFR 134.46 are not triggered, and the origin marking merely needs to satisfy the general requirements of permanency, legibility, and conspicuousness under 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.

Section 134.14 states that

When an imported article is of a kind which is usually combined with another article after importation but before delivery to an ultimate purchaser and the name indicating the country of origin of the article appears in a place on the article so that the name will be visible after such combining, the marking shall include, in addition to the name of the country of origin, words or symbols which shall clearly show that the origin indicated is that of the imported article only and not that of any other article with which the imported article may be combined after importation.

We agree with your conclusion that the finished shovel which is marked with the word "FORGED" die sunk into the metal will satisfy this regulatory requirement by clearly indicating to an ultimate purchaser that the origin reference to Ireland pertains only to the fact that the shovel head's origin is Ireland and does not refer to the origin of the handle to which it will be combined after importation.


On the basis of the information and sample submitted, we find that the country of origin marking on the shovel satisfies the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134 provided the language "Assembled in USA" is removed from the label on the shovel's handle as described above. If the label on the shovel's handle is completely removed, the marking requirements will still be satisfied.

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 handling the transaction


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals

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