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HQ 961549

July 27, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961549 RH


TARIFF NO.: 4202.32.1000

Amy J. Johannesen, Esq.
Coudert Brothers
1114 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036-7703

RE: Reconsideration of NY 812652; subheading 4202.32.1000; eyeglass cases; reinforced or laminated plastic

Dear Ms. Johannesen:

This is in reply to your letter of March 26, 1998, requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) 812652, dated August 11, 1995 [which was addressed to Mr. Tom Paciaffi, Coronet Brokers Corp., on behalf of Marcolin USA, Inc.], concerning the classification of eyeglass cases. Your request is made on behalf of the Marchon Eyewear related group of companies (including Marchon Eyewear, Inc., Rothandberg, Inc., and Marcolin USA, Inc.).

You seek immediate consideration of your request pursuant to 19 C.F.R.?177.2(d). A request was originally submitted on behalf of your client in December 1995. At that time, however, Customs was precluded from issuing a determination under 19 C.F.R. ?177.7, because of a pending case before the Court of International Trade.


You describe the eyeglass cases in the following manner:

Each of the subject "Fendi" cases has an outer surface of polyurethane plastic sheeting which is adhered to a woven polyester fabric. This reinforced plastic sheeting is embossed and/or calendared with a faux leather or fabric grain pattern and features one of the following color patterns: narrow brown stripes, brown and black checks or wide stripes, or solid black. Further, each has an interior lining of polyvinyl chloride ("PVC") felt, a flap with snap closure and a sewn-on Fendi logo patch. These cases come in two basic styles: "Hard" cases and "soft" cases. The "hard" cases have a frame composed of cardboard and aluminum to which the outer surface material has been glued. The inner lining material has also been glued to the other side of the frame. The "soft" cases contain no frame; instead they have a double lining of 1) textile fabric (the reinforcing backing for the plastic sheeting outer surface) and 2) textile-backed PVC felt which has been glued to the outer surface (of plastic sheeting/textile fabric). The "soft" cases are reinforced with sewing around the exposed and joined edges, and have a felt-covered hard plastic insert shaped to fit the bridge of a pair of eye glasses.

Each of the subject "Calvin Klein" cases has an outer surface of black polyurethane plastic sheeting adhered to a reinforcing polyester or cotton blend fabric. These cases come in two basic types: "hard" cases and "soft" cases. The "hard" cases have a hinged metal frame to which the outer surface of textile-reinforced fabric is glued. They have an interior lining of rayon-covered polystyrene which has also been glued to the metal frame. The "soft" cases have no frame; instead, the outer surface (of plastic sheeting/fabric) is glued directly to the inner lining material which is a viscose/polyester/acrylic blend felt-like fabric. The "soft" cases are then reinforced by stitching around the exposed and joined edges, and may have no closure or a snap closure and triangle plastic bridge insert. All cases have been embossed and/or calendared with the Calvin Klein name and a light grain pattern.

In NY 812652, Customs classified the eyeglass cases in question under subheading 4202.32.2000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as articles of a kind normally carried in the packet or in the handbag, with outer surface of sheeting of plastic, other. You contend that the eyeglass cases should have been classified under subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, as articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or handbag having an outer surface of reinforced or laminated plastic sheeting.


Does the material used to construct the eyeglass cases have an outer surface of plastic sheeting, or of reinforced or laminated plastics, as described by subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Heading 4202 encompasses:

Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; traveling bags, toiletry bags, knapsacks and backpacks, handbags, shopping bags, wallets, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches, tool bags, sports bags, bottle cases, jewelry boxes, powder cases, cutlery cases 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 eyeglass cases (spectacle cases) are specifically provided for in heading 4202. At the six digit international level, subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, provides for, among other things, articles carried in the pocket or in the handbag with an outer surface of plastic sheeting. The eyeglass cases are carried in the pocket or handbag, have an outer surface of plastic sheeting, and are, therefore, classifiable within that subheading. You do not contest the classification of the eyeglass cases at the six digit level.
Within subheading 4202.32, at the eight digit U.S. level, you contend that the instant merchandise is classifiable under the provision for articles of reinforced or laminated plastics of subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA.

The classification of articles of subheading 4202.32 with an outer surface of plastic sheeting is governed by Additional U.S. Note 2, Chapter 42, HTSUSA, which provides that:

For the purposes of classifying articles under subheadings 4202.12, 4202.22, 4202.32, and 4202.92, articles of textile fabric impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics (whether compact or cellular) shall be regarded as having an outer surface of textile material or of plastic sheeting, depending on whether and the extent to which the textile constituent or the plastic constituent makes up the exterior surface of the article.

The expression "plastics" is defined for the purposes of the HTSUSA by Note 1, Chapter 39, which provides that:

Throughout the tariff schedule the expression"plastics" means those materials of headings 3901 to 3914 which are or have been capable, either at the moment of polymerization or at some subsequent stage, of being formed under external influence (usually heat and pressure, if necessary with a solvent or plasticizer) by molding, casting, extruding, rolling or other process into shapes which are retained on the removal of the external influence.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 950983, dated June 15, 1992, Customs stated that Note 1, Chapter 39, should be read in conjunction with Additional U.S. Note 2 in order to determine whether an article of subheading 4202.32.1000 is "of reinforced or laminated plastics." Moreover, since an article of textile fabric impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with compact or cellular plastics is considered under Additional U.S. Note 2 to have an outer surface of plastic sheeting, provided that the plastic constituent makes up the outer surface of the article, we stated that the expression "of reinforced or laminated plastics" as used in subheading 4202.32.1000 refers to any article of subheading 4202.32 with an outer surface of plastic sheeting, so long as the article has been reinforced with or laminated to some other material, e.g., textiles. Thus an article "of reinforced or laminated plastics" is not restricted to products made up from piece goods classifiable in Chapter 39, but embraces articles with an outer shell of plastic sheeting, which have been directly or indirectly reinforced or laminated with plastics.

Moreover, in Amity Leather Co. And Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers of America, Inc. v. United States, Court of International Trade (CIT) Slip Opinion 96-140, the court upheld Customs classification of a non-rigid plastic change purse with an outer surface of plastic sheeting backed by a textile material that provided support within subheading 4202.32.10 (With outer surface of sheeting of plastic: Of reinforced or laminated plastics). The plaintiff sought classification under subheading 4202.32.20 (With outer surface of sheeting of plastic: Other). The court addressed the meaning and scope of the tariff term "of reinforced or laminated plastics" under the HTSUSA, noting that the common meaning of that term is different from its prior Tariff Schedule of the United States (TSUS) definition, which included a requirement of rigidity. Under the HTSUSA, the court held that the distinction between subheadings 4202.32.10 and 4202.32.20 does not depend upon the "rigidity" of the plastics but merely on whether the plastics have been reinforced or laminated with other materials. Plastics which have been reinforced or laminated are covered under subheading 4202.32.10 and those that are not are covered by subheading 4202.32.20.

You state that the plastic sheeting on the Fendi and Calvin Klein eyeglass cases have been united with, or supported and strengthened by, a fabric backing. The fabric performs a reinforcement function essential to the construction and marketability of the merchandise in that it prevents stretching or tearing of the plastic sheeting surface and enhances its durability. You further state that the eyeglass cases could not be manufactured and sold without the textile backing because the plastic sheeting would tear. Accordingly, since the plastic sheeting outer shell of the eyeglass cases has been combined with textile fabric so as to prevent stretching or tearing, we find that it has been "reinforced or laminated" within the meaning of subheading 4202.32.1000.

Finally, since the Fendi and Calvin Klein eyeglass cases at issue are constructed similarly to the change purse in Amity, the principles of that decision will be applicable to future entries of your client's merchandise, in accordance with section 152.16(b) of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 152.16(b)). NY 812652 is revoked by operation of law.


The articles in question are classifiable in subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, under the provision for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag: with outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials: with outer surface of plastic sheeting: of reinforced or laminated plastics. They are dutiable at the general one column rate of 12.1› per kilogram plus 4.6 percent ad valorem. .


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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