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HQ 960976

June 24, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 960976 RTR


TARIFF NO.: 9615.19.60

Robert Leo, Esq.
Meeks & Shepard
330 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10017

RE: Metal Hair "Clippees"; subheading 9615.19.30; affirmed.

Dear Mr. Leo:

This is in response to your letter, dated September 17, 1997, on behalf of L & N Sales and Marketing, Inc., requesting reconsideration of NY B88117, dated August 18, 1997. In NY B88117, Customs classified metal hair "Clippees" in subheading 9615.19.60, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as "combs, hair-slides and the like; other."


The "Clippee," made from metal, ranging in length from 1 « to 2 ¬ inches, is a two-pronged, elongated, curved triangle, with its center stamped out. The middle prong is crimped. The prongs "snap" open and closed when pressure is applied to the middle of the "Clippee." When in the convex position the "Clippee" is closed and is used to hold the consumer's hair in a fixed position. When in concave position, the two prongs are open, allowing it to be easily inserted or removed from the hair. The clasping action of the crimped middle prong and the outer prong hold the hair in position. The "Clippee" is produced in a variety of colors, and is put up for sale in packs of six or twelve pieces.


Whether the merchandise is classified as "combs, hair-slides and the like; other," in subheading 9615.19.60, HTSUS, or as "hairpins" of subheading 9615.90.30, HTSUS.


Merchandise is classifiable under the 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.

The following provisions are under consideration:

9615 Combs, hair-slides and the like; hairpins, curling pins, curling grips, hair-curlers and the like, other than those of heading 8516, and parts thereof:

Combs, hair-slides and the like:

9615.19 Other

9615.19.60 Other
................................. 11%

9615.90 Other

9615.90.30 Hairpins
................................. 5.1%

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized system. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Neither the HTSUS nor the ENs provides a definition for "hairpins." In your ruling request dated July 28, 1997, you contend that "Clippees" should be classified in subheading 9615.90.30, HTSUS, an eo nomine provision for "hairpins." In support, you cite definitions for hairpins from several lexicons, which describe "a slender U-shaped piece of wire," "a doubled pin of metal or plastic," "a small bent piece of wire," "a two-tined device usually of... metal," and "a wire bent double with crimps halfway down each side to give flexibility." You also cite authority indicating that hairpins are synonymous with "bobby-pins." However, none of these definitions describes the subject merchandise, which utilizes snapping pressure to grasp and hold the consumer's hair. Thus, the merchandise is not classified in the eo nomine provision for "hairpins" in subheading 9615.90.30, HTSUS.

In addition, you argue that the merchandise is not classified in subheading 9615.19.60, HTSUS, covering "combs, hair-slides and the like; other," in which hair barrettes are classified, because "Clippees" lack the spring-clasp mechanism common to barrettes. While it is true that the merchandise does not possess a spring-clasp mechanism, this fact does not preclude classification of "Clippees" in subheading 9615.19.60, HTSUS, because "barrettes" do not define the universe of items which are covered by that subheading. Thus, notwithstanding the fact that "Clippees" are not barrettes, they may still be classified in the same subheading.

In a letter dated September 17, 1997, you indicate that color and attractiveness of the merchandise should not be factors in determining the classification of "Clippees." Although at one time hairpins and bobby pins were manufactured in black, brown, red and blonde in order that they would match the hair color of the consumer, it seems that today many consumers actually intend them to be decorative adornments, to be seen by the general public. Thus, we agree that color and attractiveness do not, by themselves, necessarily preclude classification as hairpins.

In the same correspondence, you argue that "Clippees" are similar to hairpins and bobby pins because they hold the hair in place by means of the spring of the metal from which they are fashioned. While it is true that pressure is created by the bend in the metal of "Clippees", hairpins and bobby pins, it does not follow that this fact renders them similar for purposes of tariff classification. Hairpins and bobby pins have only one position, "closed," in which there is constant pressure by one prong against the other. By contrast, the "Clippee," with an "open" position (no pressure applied) and a "closed" position (pressure applied), is a much more sophisticated apparatus than the hairpin or bobby pin, and is unique from both of those items.

Accordingly, we affirm NY B88117.


Hair "Clippees" are classified in subheading 9615.19.60, HTSUS, "Combs, hair-slides and the like: Other; Other.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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