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 960954 - HQ 961085 > HQ 960983

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 960983

September 25, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960983 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4202.99.9000

Mr. Stephen C. Liu
Pacific Century Customs Service
11099 South La Cienaga Boulevard, Suite 202 Los Angeles, California 90045

RE: Diskette Storage Case; Heading 4202, HTSUS;

Dear Mr. Liu:

This is in response to your request dated March 11, 1997, on behalf of your client, Memtek Products, Inc., concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of a diskette storage case manufactured in Taiwan. A sample was submitted with your request.


The sample, described as a "Clam Diskette Storage Case" and identified by Part Number 3202-1741, is a case composed of pliable molded plastics. The case measures approximately 4-1/4 inches in width by 4-1/2 inches in depth by 1 inch in height. It is specially fitted with an internal plastic support device attached to the case interior at 4 points. The device grips and holds the diskettes when the case is closed and positions the diskettes for easy access when the case is open. The case closes by means of self-locking upper and lower edges. Advertising literature printed on the retail packaging states that the case holds either five 3.5 inch diskettes or two magnetic optical diskettes, that it is made of durable plastic materials, and that it is compact, lightweight, and easy to carry. Additional promotional literature states that, "[w]hether used for travel or for storage at your desk, this compact and lightweight unit will guard up to 5 of your 3.5 inch diskettes."


Whether the case is classifiable under heading 3926, HTSUS, as an other article of plastics, or under heading 4202, HTSUS, as an other container similar to those specially shaped and fitted to contain specific articles.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined 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 GRI may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

Heading 4202, HTSUS, provides for "Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases...spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; traveling bags...wallets, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches...and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of sheeting of plastics, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper."

The EN to heading 4202 suggest that the articles covered by the first part of the heading may be of any material. The expression "similar containers" in the first part of the heading includes hat boxes, camera accessory cases, cartridge pouches, sheaths for hunting or camping knives, portable tool boxes or cases, specially shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools with or without their accessories, etc.

The EN indicate that the articles covered by the second part of heading 4202 must be only of the materials specified therein or their foundations must be wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper. Since molded plastics are not specified in the second part of the heading and the case is not covered by any material, to be classifiable in heading 4202, the diskette must be similar to the articles named in the first part of the heading, which generally are specially shaped or internally fitted to contain particular items.

In Totes, Incorporated v. United States, 18 C.I.T. 919, 865 F. Supp. 867 (1994), aff'd, 69 F.3d 495 (Fed. Cir. 1995), the Court of International Trade held that the essential characteristics and purposes of the heading 4202 exemplars are to organize, store, protect and carry various items. The clam diskette storage case is specially shaped and internally fitted to organize, store, protect, and carry computer diskettes. The article is, therefore, prima facie classifiable within heading 4202, HTSUS.

We next consider whether the diskette case may be classifiable in a heading other than 4202, HTSUS, and we examine heading 3926 as the most likely competing heading. Chapter 39, HTSUS, covers plastics and articles thereof. Heading 3926 provides for "Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914." In pertinent part, note 2(ij) to chapter 39, HTSUS, states "This chapter does not cover: ...trunks, suitcases, handbags or other containers of heading 4202."

In past Headquarters Ruling Letters (HQ), this office has resolved competition between heading 4202 and certain other headings (whose chapter notes exclude articles of heading 4202 from their chapters) by adherence to the requirement of GRI 1, that "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes," and that other GRI may be used "provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require."

Since the exclusionary note to chapter 39, HTSUS, does require that other GRI not be used to determine classification, the fact that the diskette case is prima facie classifiable in heading 4202, precludes classification of the cases under heading 3926, HTSUS. See HQ 959791 and HQ 959792, issued February 11, 1997. The above analysis was reiterated and fully supported in a decision by the Court of International Trade in Avenues in Leather v. United States, Slip Op. 98-54, decided April 24, 1998.

In HQ 959780, issued February 17, 1998, this office classified an article described as a "soft pliable molded case of plastic" which measured approximately 4 inches by 4 inches by 3/4 of an inch, in subheading 3926.10.0000, HTSUSA, the provision for "Other articles of plastics...: Office or school supplies." Heading 4202, HTSUS, was not considered to be a competing heading in that ruling because the item was further described as "a shell without any inserts" with "nothing in its construction which particularly suits it for travel." It was found that the various
colors of the cases made them particularly suitable for office indexing of diskettes on a variety of subjects and that the primary purpose of the cases was to store and protect their contents.

The essential characteristics of the clam diskette case which distinguish it from the case classified in HQ 959780, center upon the fact that the clam diskette storage case is specially fitted with a device that renders it: 1) suitable for the protection of its contents during travel and 2) classifiable as a specially fitted container similar to those enumerated in the first part of heading 4202, HTSUS. The clam diskette storage case is classified in subheading 4202.99.9000, HTSUSA.


The article described as a "Clam Diskette Storage Case" and identified by Part No. 3202-1741, is classified in subheading 4202.99.9000, HTSUSA, the provision for "Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases...spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases... and similar containers...: Other: Other: Other." The general column one duty rate is 20 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: