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HQ 955599

October 31, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955599 LTO


TARIFF NO.: 9013.80.60

Mr. Peter Jay Baskin
Sharretts, Paley, Carter and Blauvelt, P.C. 67 Broad Street
New York, New York 10004

RE: Laser pointer; laser diode; subheading 9013.20.00; HQs 951714, 953516, 955114

Dear Mr. Baskin:

This is in response to your letter of December 29, 1993, requesting the classification of a laser pointer under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The article in question is a battery-operated, laser pointer. The device consists of a laser diode and lens in a plastic housing. In use, a narrow beam of red light emitted by the laser diode is directed by the lens onto an object (e.g., a chart, map or similar item). The laser pointer replaces telescopic-type pointers.


Whether the laser pointer is classifiable under subheading 9013.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for "[l]asers, other than laser diodes."


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 - 2 -
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 9013, HTSUS, provides for "[l]iquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings; lasers, other than laser diodes; other optical appliances and instruments, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts and accessories thereof." You contend that the laser pointers are classifiable under subheading 9013.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for "[l]asers, other than laser diodes." You argue that laser diodes are a laser part, rather than a type of laser, and that while laser diodes are excluded from subheading 9013.20.00, HTSUS, devices incorporating them are not.

While the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Note (EN) 90.13, pg. 1478, seems to indicate that "laser diodes" are laser parts, a "laser diode" is, in fact, "[a] laser in which stimulated emissions of coherent light occur at a p-n junction. The laser diode operates as a laser producing a monochromatic light modulated by insertion of carriers across a p- n junction of semiconductor materials." Weik, Fiber Optics Standard Dictionary, Second Edition, pg. 140 [emphasis added]. Laser diodes are "[s]ynonymous with diode laser; injection laser diode; semiconductor diode laser; [and] semiconductor laser." Id. at 141.

The laser pointers consist of a laser diode--a type of "laser"--and lens in a housing. They are similar to other commercial diode lasers which, due to their small size, "are almost always packaged in a housing that simplifies handling and aims the output beam or beams (which can emerge from one or both faces of the device) in a predictable direction." Hecht, The Laser Guidebook, ch. 18 (near-infrared semiconductor diode lasers), pg. 247.

Based on the express terms of heading 9013, HTSUS, and the fact that commercial laser diodes are generally "housed," it seems incongruous to find that the laser diode itself is excluded from subheading 9013.20.00, HTSUS, yet classify a "housed" laser diode in that same subheading. Moreover, while the laser pointers meet a portion of the description of lasers found in EN 90.13, pg. 1478- 9, in that they produce electro-magnetic radiation in the wavelength range between 1 nanometer and 1 millimeter, by the process of controlled stimulated emission, they do not incorporate the "energy source (pumping system) and the resonant optical cavity (reflector system)" contemplated by the note. Accordingly, the laser pointers are classifiable under subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS. See HQ 955114, dated October 19, 1993 (laser diode module); HQ - 3 -

953516, dated July 1, 1993 (battery-operated, laser pointer); HQ 951714, dated August 6, 1992 (laser targeting device).


The laser pointer is classifiable under subheading 9013.80.60, HTSUS, which provides for other optical appliances and instruments. The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 9% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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