United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1998 HQ Rulings > HQ 960513 - HQ 960622 > HQ 960562

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 960562

OCTOBER 23, 1997

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 960562 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8479.89.85

Port Director of Customs
33 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

RE: PRD 2809-96-101249; Cluster Tool Ion Beam Deposition System, Ion Beam Deposition Machine; Machine for Applying Aluminum Oxide Film Onto Silicon Wafer Substrate for Later Processing into Read/Write Heads for Computer Disk Drives; Machines for Production of Semiconductor Devices and Electrical Integrated Circuits, Class or Kind, Principal Use, Group Italglass U.S.A. v. U.S.; Electrical Machines and Apparatus, Subheading 8543.30.00

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 2809-96-101249, filed against your classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of an ion beam deposition machine, a product of the UK. The entry was liquidated on July 26, 1996, and this protest timely filed on September 18, 1996.


The merchandise under protest is invoiced as the Discovery 3000 Cluster Tool Ion Beam Deposition Unit, with spare parts. It consists of a wafer handling mechanism, a vacuum chamber designed to accommodate 4, 6 or 8-inch wafers, and electronic controls that correlate the handling and deposition processes.

Submitted literature describes a machine that utilizes physical vapor deposition technology to physically deposit thin layers of aluminum oxide onto silicon, aluminum or glass wafer substrates, among others. However, the instant machine utilizes aluminum wafers. Successive layering of thin films form inductive coils, poles, and connectors on the wafers which result in specific, measurable micro levels of semiconductivity. These wafers are later sliced, lapped, diced, then assembled into thin-film read/write heads for computer disk drives which offer higher - 2 -
data density. The literature indicates that in addition to making magnetic thin film heads, machines that utilize physical vapor deposition technology are also used in the manufacture of electronic integrated circuits. Machines of this type may also be used for ion etching, but information in the file indicates the Discovery 3000 under protest has been modified so as to perform only physical vapor deposition.

The Discovery 3000 was entered under a provision in HTS heading 8479 for machines for the production of semiconductor devices and electronic integrated circuits. The local import specialist concedes that this is a physical deposition machine, but not for the integrated circuit industry. The entry was liquidated under a provision in HTS heading 8543, as electrical machines and apparatus, n.s.i.e.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8479 Machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [chapter 84]:

Other machines and mechanical appliances:

8479.89 Other:

8479.89.85 [M]achines for...production of...semiconductor devices and electronic integrated circuits

8543 Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [chapter 85]; parts thereof:

8543.30.00 Machines and apparatus for electroplating, electrolysis or electrophoresis


Whether the Discovery 3000 belongs to a class or kind of physical vapor deposition machines principally used for the production of semiconductor devices and electronic integrated circuits. - 3 -


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

Goods of heading 8543 operate wholly electrically, but may incorporate mechanical features, provided those features are subsidiary to the electrical function of the good. In ion deposition, a substrate is placed in the vacuum chamber filled with a pure inert gas. An electric field ionizes the gas and forms an ion beam that bombards the material to be deposited, knocking off molecules which then form the thin coating layers on the surface of the substrate. While the process takes place in an electrical field, the impact of the ionizing beam that knocks molecules off the material to be deposited is a physical phenomenon which, in our opinion, is not subsidiary to any electrical function the good may perform. For this reason, the Discovery 3000 is not provided for in heading 8543.

Machinery of heading 8479 must have individual functions, that is, a function or functions which can be performed distinctly from or independently of any other machine or appliance, and also must not be described more specifically in another heading in any other Chapter in the HTSUS. The Discovery 3000 performs the function of physical vapor deposition independently of any other machine, and it is not described in any other Chapter in the HTSUS. It is provided for in heading 8479. The provisions of subheading 8479.89.85 are governed by use. It is the principal use of the class or kind of machines to which the Discovery 3000 belongs that controls. See Group Italglass U.S.A., Inc. v. United States, 17 CIT 1177, 839 F. Supp. 866, 867 (1993). Available information indicates that semiconductors and integrated circuits are not produced by means of physical vapor deposition technology utilizing aluminum wafer substrates. However, the protestant's literature indicates that the Discovery 3000 also processes silicon wafers typically used in the semiconductor industry, and that thin film deposition techniques are used in the production of integrated circuits. In addition to producing thin film heads for computer disk drives, the literature lists "integrated circuits," microwave integrated circuits," "Ga As (gallium arsenide) Opto Electronics," and "Ga As Integrated Circuits" under other application areas. From this - 4 -
we conclude that the Discovery 3000 ion beam deposition machine belongs to a class or kind of machine whole principal use is for the production of semiconductor devices and electronic integrated circuits.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the Discovery 3000 ion beam deposition machine is provided for in heading 8479. It is classifiable in subheading 8479.89.85, HTSUS. The protest should be ALLOWED as to this machine. However, this subheading does not include parts. Goods that are identifiable as parts of machines or apparatus of Chapters 84 and 85 are to be classifiable in accordance with Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS. The spare parts in issue should be reclassified accordingly and the protest ALLOWED or DENIED as appropriate.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you should mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing 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 to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: