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HQ 960821

August 28, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 960821ptl


TARIFF NO.: 5703.30.0080

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
1624 E. 7th Avenue
Suite 101
Tampa, FL 33605-3706

RE: Protest 1801-97-100050; Policlassic Artificial Turf; HQs 075737/811516, 081903, 952267; Nichimen Co., Inc. v. United States, 72 Cust. Ct. 130, C.D. 4514 (1974).

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on protest 1801-97-100050, against your classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of certain policlassic artificial turf.


The merchandise under protest is a form of synthetic grass, called policlassic turf. It was imported in rolls, measuring 2m x 38m. The manufacturer's technical data sheet describes the finished product as being the result of a tufting production process.
The entry covering the merchandise was made on August 8, 1996, and liquidated on March 28, 1997, under the provision for carpets and other textile floor coverings, tufted, in subheading 5703.30.0080, HTSUS, with duty at the general rate of 7.3%. A timely protest under 19 U.S.C. 1514 was received on April 2, 1997. The protestant requested reliquidation of the entry under the provision for sports equipment, other, parts & accessories in subheading 9506.99.6080, HTSUS, with duty at the general rate of 4.4%.


What is the classification of policlassic turf?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the HTSUS is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied in order.

The headings under consideration are as follows:

5703 Carpets and other textile floor coverings, tufted, whether or not made up:

5703.30.00 Of other man-made textile materials


5703.30.0080 Other.

9506 Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis) or outdoor games, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; swimming pools and wading pools; parts and accessories thereof:


9506.99 Other:

9506.99.60 Other:

9506.99.6080 Other.

The protestant is basing its contention that the merchandise should be classified as sports equipment in heading 9506, HTSUS, on HQ 075737/811516, issued on April 10, 1985. That ruling was issued to the protestant under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the predecessor to the HTSUS, and classified artificial playing surface as sporting equipment, with the actual classification being dependent on which sport the surface was intended. The protest states that the instant merchandise is identical to that covered by the earlier ruling.

The HTSUS, which went into effect January 1, 1989, is a new tariff system with rules of interpretation and application somewhat different from the TSUS. As noted in House Conference Report No. 100-576, dated April 20, 1998, on the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-418), decisions by the Customs Service and the courts interpreting nomenclature under the TSUS are not to be deemed dispositive in interpreting the HTSUS. Nevertheless, on a case-by-case basis prior decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting the HTSUS, particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTSUS.

As was noted above, HQ 075737/811516, was issued under the TSUS. It does not reflect the current Customs position on the classification of the merchandise under the HTSUS.

Heading 9506, HTSUS, provides for articles and equipment for sports and outdoor games. However, the scope of the heading is limited to articles which are required by and for the sport and which are designed to be used by a player in the practice of, training for, and activity of the sport or game. The "articles" and "equipment" specifically provided for in this heading include, for example, skis, golf clubs, sports balls, rackets, skates, exercise equipment and sports protective gear. All the articles identified are intended to be used by a participant while engaging in or participating in the sport for which they have been designed. They are either necessary to enable participation in the sport, or they protect a participant who is engaging in the sport.

The artificial turf which constitutes the surface on which a sport is played is neither essential or necessary for the conduct of the sport. Playing surfaces do not assist the player in the pursuit of the sport. They function as a convenient and efficient surface upon which the game or sport is played. They are part of the structure or environment located at the site of the sport. Although the surfaces might facilitate the playing of the sport, they are not essential to the game or activity.

We note that the court in Nichimen Co., Inc. v. United States, 72 Cust. Ct. 130, C.D. 4514 (1974) agreed with the Customs position that retaining nets for golf driving ranges were not sports equipment even though they were specifically designed for use at the driving ranges because they were not "designed for the use of the player during the course of play" and were not intended to aid the players in the conduct of the sport of golf. In order to be considered "equipment" of heading 9506, HTSUS, the article or apparatus must be used by a player during the course of playing a sport or game, or it must be essential to the conduct of the game or sport, like a tennis or badminton divider net, or the goal net used in hockey or soccer. A floor system consisting of artificial turf is neither used by a player, nor it it essential to the conduct of the sport.

The sample of the merchandise submitted to Customs has been examined and been determined to be a tufted textile floor covering. The merchandise is classified in subheading 5703.30.0080, HTSUS, which provides for carpets and other textile floor coverings, tufted, whether or not made up: of other man-made textile materials, other, other. This classification is consistent with HQ 081903, issued November 25, 1988, and HQ 952267, issued September 23, 1992, which classified similar merchandise in the same heading.


For the reasons stated above, the protest should be DENIED.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, Revised Protest Directive, dated August 4, 1993, a copy of this decision attached to Customs Form 19, Notice of Action, should be provided by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this decision and any reliquidations of entries in accordance with this decision must be accomplished prior thereto. Sixty days from the date of this decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make this 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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