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HQ 958800

April 22, 1997

CLA-2 TC:RR:FC 958800 MMC


TARIFF NO.: 9017.20.90

D. Michael Thomas
C.H. Robinson International, Inc.
2006 Harrell Square
Charleston, South Carolina 29407

RE: Spiral-graph; Drawing instruments; En 90.17; Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. United States, C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States; HRLs 953922, 958805

Dear Mr. Thomas:

This is in response to your letter of August 22, 1995, to the Customs office in New York, requesting the classification of the "spiral-graph and stencil toys" under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was forwarded, along with a sample, to this office for response.


The merchandise at issue is a set consisting of a 6" X 3" square plastic spiral-graph. Contained in the area of the spiral-graph is a series of 5 circles, as well as other geometric shapes which are designed to be traced with a pencil.


What is the classification of the "Spiral-graph" under the HTSUS?


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 . . . ." Heading 9017, HTSUS, provides for drawing instruments.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, and therefore not dispositive, 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 (August 23, 1989). EN 90.17, pg. 1485, lists various apparatus or devices considered to be drawing instruments of heading 9017, HTSUS. There is no indication that an article's degree of sophistication is a relevant criterion for heading 9017, HTSUS, purposes (with the exception of "stencils," which EN 90.17 states must be "clearly identifiable as being specialized as drawing instruments"). In fact, EN 90.17 lists "drawing compasses" and "ordinary protractors," hardly sophisticated apparatus.

The term "drawing" is not defined in the text of the HTSUS or the Explanatory Notes. When terms are not so defined, they are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meaning. Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982). The term drawing means "the art or technique of representing an object or outlining a figure, plan, or sketch by means of lines," while the term draw means "to produce a likeness or representation of by making lines on a surface." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, pg. 381-382 (1990). The "Spiral-graph" is designed, and includes all of the components necessary, to outline a figure and produce a likeness by means of making lines on a surface. The device is therefore classifiable, according to GRI 1, as a drawing instrument under heading 9017, HTSUS.

Specifically, the "Spiral-graph" is classifiable under subheading 9017.20.90, HTSUS, which provides for other drawing instruments. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 953922, dated November 17, 1993, wherein we classified the "Video Painter," a sketching and drawing system which allowed the user to create a wide variety of colorful images on a television set or video monitor, under heading 9017, HTSUS. See also, HRL 958805 dated February 8, 1996, wherein we classified the "Trace N' Color", "light box" with an illuminated drawing surface on which a child rests a sheet of printed figures and/or scenes, places a blank piece of paper over the figure sheet and traces them, under heading 9017, HTSUS.


TheSprial-graph is classifiable under subheading 9017.20.90, HTSUS, which provides for other drawing instruments. The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 5.3% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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