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HQ 960010

August 4, 1998
CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960010 jb


TARIFF NO.: 9404.90.8020

Area Director
U.S. Customs Service
200 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29401-2611

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 160196100128; puff comforter top

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on an application for further review of a protest timely filed by Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman LLP, on behalf of Quilt Gallery, Inc., against your decision regarding the classification of the certain puff comforter tops and the demand for redelivery of six entries. None of the entries have been liquidated. Samples were submitted to this office for examination.


The classification of the subject merchandise was the subject of New York Ruling Letter (NY) 807341, dated March 17, 1995. That ruling, in classifying the merchandise in heading 6307, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), the provision for other made up articles, described the merchandise as follows:

...an unfinished "Puff" comforter top. It is made in China from 100 percent cotton printed woven fabric of United States origin and woven fabric of China origin. The fabrics are cut into small squares. The woven fabric squares of China origin is sewn to the back of the printed woven fabric squares of United States origin to form a pocket or envelope which is filled with polyester fiber to give the assembled squares a "puffed" appearance. The puffed squares are then sewn together to form a patchwork article. After importation into the United States the article is finished by attaching a backing and filling creating a comforter.

We note that the merchandise measures approximately 73 inches in width by 90 inches in length.

In the Protestant's original request for a classification ruling letter, the Protestant stated that:

Quilt Gallery imports the articles into the United States for use as "unfinished puff comforter tops." Quilt Gallery makes a finished product by sewing the "top" to a printed or solid dyed fabric back, finishing the edges, adding a ruffled fabric border, and applying a polyester fill or batting. Finally, Quilt Gallery finishes the article by quilting the top, batting and backing together with quilting machines.

The unfinished puff comforter tops are also suitable for use in making bedspreads, quilts, furniture covers, and other furnishings for which a "puffed" patchwork outer surface is desired.

Subsequent to the issuance of NY 807341, the manufacturing operations occurring in the United States changed such that the batting was no longer added to the puffed comforter top. As such, the finished merchandise would consist only of the puffed comforter top and a backing. These factual changes to the manufacturing operations were never brought to the attention of Customs nor was a request made for a ruling request to reflect the changes in the original information submitted to Customs.

Following this change in the facts, Customs reclassified the subject merchandise in heading 9404, HTSUS, the provision for bedding, and the Protestant was served with six redelivery notices for the subject merchandise.


1. Whether the subject merchandise is properly classified in heading 6307, HTSUS, as an other made up article, or in heading 9404, HTSUS, as an article of bedding?

2. Whether the redelivery notices were timely?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the rules of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in order. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI.

In this instance the subject merchandise consists of a "puff comforter top" measuring 73 inches by 90 inches. In HQ 957410, dated February 3, 1995, Customs determined standard commercial sizes for mattresses and bed coverings after conferring with numerous mattress and bed linen manufacturers in the United States. The standard sizes are as follows:

Mattress Sizes Quilts and Bedspread Sizes

Twin 39" X 75" 66" X 86"
Full 54" X 75" 81" X 86"
Queen 60" X 80" 86" X 86"
King 78" X 80" 100" X 90"

Heading 9404, HTSUS, provides for, among other things, articles of bedding and similar furnishings, provided that such articles are fitted with springs or stuffed or internally fitted with any material. Although there is no provision in the nomenclature or the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) to heading 9404, HTSUS, which specifies that articles which are potentially classifiable under Heading 9404, HTSUS, must be able to cover a bed, it is Customs opinion that implicit in an article being considered "bedding" is that it be capable of serving a primary function of covering a bed sufficiently so as to make such use practicable. In his submission the Protestant states that this merchandise can be used for a variety of purposes, however we note that the measurements of the "comforter top" are within the parameters of what is recognized in the trade as commercial sizes for bed coverings. As such for classification purposes, the finished merchandise is classifiable as an article of bedding in heading 9404, HTSUS.

The subject merchandise however, in its imported condition is not "finished"; the article will be finished only subsequent to the backing being added to the merchandise. The question is thus, does the puff comforter top in its unfinished state, have the essential character of the finished article? General Rule of Interpretation 2(a), HTSUSA, provides that any reference in a heading shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished if the article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. Heading 9404, HTSUS, explicitly states that for an article of bedding to be classified therein, the article must be stuffed or internally fitted. The subject puff comforter top is comprised of fabric squares which form pockets which are filled with polyester fiber to give the assembled squares a "puffed" appearance. In that respect these "filled pockets" are stuffed and thus for classification purposes, are within the plain meaning of "stuffed or fitted" as set out in heading 9404, HTSUS. Additionally even in the unfinished state the merchandise, comprised of these filled pockets, has the essential character of an article of bedding.

Although we are aware that in NY 807341 this merchandise was classified in heading 6307, HTSUS, the provision for other made up articles, this no longer reflects the view of the Customs Service. NY 807341 is in the process of being revoked to conform with the analysis expressed herein. We will however, set out to distinguish the subject merchandise from merchandise classifiable in heading 6307, HTSUS, based on the rulings to which the Protestant referred in his submission.

It is the opinion of the Protestant that several rulings which addressed whether unfinished articles should be classified as finished articles further support the Protestant's claim that the subject merchandise should be classified in heading 6307, HTSUS. Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 957006, dated June 27, 1995, (mistakenly stated as HQ 857006 in Protestant's submission), addressed the tariff classification of an unfinished and partially unassembled golf bag. In the second scenario in that ruling, when the body bag and the remaining components were imported in separate shipments, the merchandise was classified in heading 6307, HTSUS. In the first scenario however, when both the bag and its components were imported together it was determined that:

When assembled, the imported body bag and other components are dedicated for use in, and possess the approximate shape or outline of, the finished golf bag. Moreover, we are of the opinion that the imported components are indispensable to the structure of the final product and include the most important constituent materials in relation of the use of the goods.

We would argue that the subject merchandise is more akin to the first scenario, and not the second scenario, of HQ 957006. The subject puff comforter top is in the approximate size and shape of the finished comforter top. Moreover, the most important "constituent materials in relation to the use of the good" are present in the "puff pockets" which comprise the comforter top. As such, the subject merchandise is properly classifiable in heading 9404, HTSUS.

In HQ 956538, dated November 29, 1994, the front panel assembly for a suitcase was classified in heading 6307, HTSUS, based on the fact that:

In this instance, the front panel makes up only a fraction of the bulk and weight of the finished article. The front panel is composed of generally the same materials as the remainder of the suitcase. Accordingly, the value of the materials used to fabricate the front panel is only a small portion of the total material cost. Viewed in isolation, the shape or outline of the finished article is not evident from the front panel....the front panel is no more important to the finished article than the walls or the rear panel, which perform similar as well as other functions. Hence, the front panel is not the distinguishing feature of the suitcase.

The subject merchandise on the other hand, except for the backing to "finish" the article, is in essence, complete; most of the value and character inherent to the subject comforter top can be attributed to that puff top alone. As such, classification in heading 6307, HTSUS, is not appropriate.

We find confusing any comparison of the subject merchandise to the cut pieces of coated fabric required to assemble a 10 man inflatable boat addressed in HQ 956484, dated August 19, 1994. That ruling stated:

In this case we cannot agree with your claim that the imported cut fabric may be classified as an unassembled vessel. The technical complexity of the assembly process, and the time required to accomplish it, indicate that the assembly process is more than a simple one. Although the fabric is undoubtedly an important constituent of a finished inflatable boat, it does not alone impart the essential character of an inflatable boat. The transom, floor, valves, and other items which are not imported with the fabric are needed before the unassembled article could be considered to have the essential character of a boat.

The subject merchandise is as simple as the above referenced boat is complex. The assembly process required to finish the subject merchandise is very simple- all that is required is the fabric backing and the decorative ruffle. It does not require the labor intensity of the boat addressed in HQ 956484. Furthermore, we note that while the boat which was the subject of HQ 956484 required an analysis relevant to an unassembled article, as it consisted of cut fabric pieces (not cut and preassembled pieces), the present comforter top which is partially assembled, even in its unfinished condition, lends itself to a determination of essential character and thus, classification in heading 9404, HTSUS.

In HQ 084876, dated July 17, 1989, the main panel of a military field pack was classified in heading 6307, HTSUS, because it was determined that:

The main panel at issue does not provide the essential character of the completed backpack. It does not provide the bulk of the completed product nor does it provide the main role of the good. As imported it is not sufficiently completed to provide the shape of a backpack.

It is obvious that the same cannot be said of the subject merchandise. The puff comforter top does provide the bulk of the completed product and provides the main role of the good (that is, the stuffed squares will provide the warmth attributable to the comforter). Furthermore, as imported, the puff comforter top is sufficiently complete to provide the shape of the finished comforter.

The Protestant mistakenly likens the subject puff comforter top to the cathedral squares addressed in HQ 953018, dated March 9, 1993. The latter consisted of floral woven fabric with smaller pieces of floral and plain woven fabric sewn onto the center to form a design. Unlike the subject merchandise, the cathedral squares did not have any stuffing or fittings and measured only about 10 inches by 10 inches and therefore were precluded from classification in heading 9404, HTSUS, as an unfinished comforter. As we have already stated, the subject puff comforter top, by virtue of its "filled puff pockets" is considered stuffed or fitted as per the terms of heading 9404, HTSUS.

Finally, in one last attempt to classify the subject puff comforter top in heading 6307, HTSUS, the Protestant states that the puff comforter top does not meet the definition of "quilt" as expressed in the American Heritage Dictionary:
a bed coverlet or blanket made of two layers of fabric with a layer of cotton, wool, feathers, or down in between, all stitched firmly together, usually in a crisscross pattern.

The Protestant states:
the only stuffing or fill in Quilt Gallery's finished article is in the individual small puffs themselves. It does not consist of two large layers, a top and a bottom, with stuffing in between. Without a batting or other form of stuffing, Quilt Gallery's finished article is not even a quilt or comforter. It stands to reason, then, that the imported article cannot have the essential character of a quilt if the finished article is not a quilt.

Frankly, we are puzzled by Protestant's assertions. First, using the Protestant's own definition, there is no mention that a quilt consist of "two large layers" of fabric with a fill. The definition simply states that the article consist of two layers of fabric with some sort of fill. The puff squares which the Protestant summarily dismisses meet the terms of this definition. The puff comforter top consists of woven fabric squares sewn to the back of printed woven fabric squares and filled with polyester fiber. Thus, in essence we have two layers of fabric and a filling. Secondly, although in the Protestant's own submission the Protestant stated that "the unfinished puff comforter tops are also suitable for use in making bedspreads, quilts, furniture covers, and other furnishings for which a puffed patchwork outer surface is desired", the Protestant now seems to be saying that neither the finished nor the unfinished article can be used as such. We find these statements both contradictory and confusing.

We conclude that the subject merchandise is properly classified in heading 9404, HTSUS.

However, pursuant to the terms set out in section 625(c)(1) , Tariff Act of 1930 (19 USC
1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization ) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057), as NY 807341, issued to Quilt Gallery, determined the classification of this merchandise to be in heading

6307, HTSUS, the Protestant reasonably relied on this ruling for the subsequent importation of this merchandise. As such, the present protest is granted in full and the issue of the timeliness of the redelivery notices is moot.


The protest should be granted in full and a copy of this ruling should be appended to the CF 19 Notice of Action to satisfy the notice requirement of section 174.30(a) Customs Regulations.

In accordance with Section 3(A)(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be mailed by your office to the Protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of 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 the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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