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NY 818035

February 2, 1996

MAR-05-64:RR:NC:TP:347 818035


Ms. Diane Cachia
Action Customs Expediters, Inc.
115 Christopher Columbus Drive
Jersey City, NJ 07302

RE: The country of origin marking of footwear from China and Indonesia.

Dear Ms. Cachia:

In your letter dated January 5, 1996, you requested a country of origin marking ruling on behalf of your client, Just Court D/B/A/ U.S. Athletics, Inc.

The merchandise is certain athletic type shoes which bear the registered trademark "U.S. Athletics", prominently displayed on the outside tongue, either in embroidery or sewn on labels. You state that the shoe is marked with the country of origin on both the inside of the shoe and on the box that it is sold in. You further state that it is your understanding that because "U.S. Athletics" is a registered trademark, it is not required that the country of origin also appear within close proximity to this logo.

The marking statute, section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser the English name of the country of origin of the article. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

The primary purpose of the country of origin marking statute 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., 27 CCPA 297, 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940). The clear language of section 1304 requires 'conspicuous' marking, and to this end section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 134.41(b)), further provides, in part, that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Regarding the concept of conspicuousness, where locations other than the country of origin of the merchandise are identified on an imported article or its container, section 134.47, Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 134.47), further provides that: [w]hen as part of a trademark or trade name or as part of a souvenir marking, the name of a location in the United States or "United States" or "America" appear, 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.

An examination of the shoes in question reveals a textile label sewn on the inside top of the tongue which indicates the country of origin of the shoe. While not in close proximity to the "U.S. Athletics", it is located in a conspicuous place. This marking is sufficiently legible, conspicuous and permanent so as to inform the ultimate purchaser in the United States of the country of origin of the imported shoes and is in compliance with the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

If the shoes of foreign origin are conspicuously and legibly marked with their country of origin, than marking the unsealed shoe box with the country of origin of the shoe is unnecessary, provided that the boxes have no place or locality references printed on them. Customs has previously held that cardboard shoe boxes are disposable containers excepted from marking with their own country of origin under 19 C.F.R. 134.24(c)(1).

However, the box submitted as part of this ruling request has two locality references other than the country of origin of the imported footwear. In addition to the registered trademark "U.S. Athletics", the name "Dallas" is prominently displayed on the end panel of the box. The box has "Made in Indonesia" printed in smaller type on the side panel of the box. While this country of origin marking would satisfy the requirement of "some other conspicuous place" of 19 C.F.R. 134.47, the presence of the locality "Dallas" requires that the country of origin of the imported footwear appear in close proximity and in letters of at least equal size to the potentially misleading reference to comply with 19. C.F.R. 134.46. The purpose of 19 C.F.R. 134.46 is to prevent the possibility of misleading the ultimate purchaser as to the origin of the imported article. Shoe boxes, in particular, are held to a strict standard of compliance to the country of origin marking requirements of 19 C.F.R. 134.46. Therefore, if imported as is, it will not meet the country of origin marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

Customs has ruled that in order to satisfy the close proximity requirement of 19. C.F.R. 134.46, 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.

If you require additional information, please contact NIS Richard Foley at (212) 466-5890.

Robert Swierupski

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