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NY B89979

October 21, 1997

CLA-2-39:RR:NC:SP:221 B89979


TARIFF NO.: 3926.10.0000

Mr. John M. Peterson
Neville, Peterson & Williams
80 Broad Street
34th Floor
New York, NY 10004

RE: The tariff classification of a binder/organizer from China.

Dear Mr. Peterson:

In your letter dated September 24, 1997, on behalf of Stuart Hall Company, Kansas City, you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The binder/organizer is a zippered bifold cover/organizer with a removable binder mechanism. The organizer measures approximately 13 3/4 by 11 by 2 1/2 inches in its folded condition. The exterior consists of cellular plastics sheeting with a backing of plain knit fabric. This construction is considered to be plastics, with the textile present for mere reinforcement. Under this outside layer is a foamed plastic padding. Underneath the padding is a stiffening layer, which, though described as cardboard or fiberboard, was found to be of plastics. The interior is lined with nylon fabric. The exterior features a red plastic strip in the shape of the Coca-Cola "swirl," and a circular patch with the words "Coca-Cola" superimposed on a drawing of a Coke bottle.

Inside the organizer are two full length nylon vertical pockets. A stiff sheet of plastics, measuring approximately 10 by 11 1/2 inches, on which a three-ring binder mechanism is riveted, is inserted into the vertical pocket on the right side. The vertical pocket on the left side of the organizer is empty, and may be used for storage of a notebook, pad or documents. There is a 5 inch high horizontal pocket sewn into each vertical pocket, which can be used to store and organize other articles. The horizontal pocket on the left vertical pocket incorporates an additional two compartments, formed by stitching, designed to hold pens or pencils. Ten sheets of paper are inserted in the binder mechanism. Your sample is being returned as you requested.

You propose that the instant product be classified in heading 4820, HTS, which provides, in pertinent part, for diaries, notebooks and similar articles, of paper or paperboard. You claim that the article contains a "daily planner book." We note, however, that the sample ring binder contains only ten sheets of heavyweight paper, the first of which is printed with a two-year academic calendar as well as captioned grids for the recordation of personal information and class schedules. Each of the remaining pages features two rather narrow, blank, ruled columns for the entry of "daily notes."

We observe that the ring binder has the capacity to hold a much larger supply of paper than what is included with it. It appears to us that if the imported "binder organizer" is used as intended, i.e., as an academic notebook and/or planner, the user will normally choose to fill it with a package of looseleaf "filler paper" and/or a complete "planner refill" (available commercially under various guises). In any event, the paper to be added will be substantially more voluminous than what is already present. The ten sheets of paper supplied with the binder thus appear to constitute a minimal "starter set" of pages, probably intended to be kept at the front of the bulk of the pages to be supplied by the user. It is quite possible that some users may opt to discard or ignore the starter pages if the format of those pages is not compatible with their needs.

In light of the above, we find that the basic product being offered here is not a notebook or planner but a binder/cover designed to allow the user to build his or her own notebook or planner, and to provide a means to store/carry loose papers, pencils, rulers, etc., in the pockets provided. The paper included with the item is insignificant with respect to its marketability and ultimate function. It is also minor in comparison with the other materials and components present in the overall product, i.e., in terms of bulk, weight, appearance and, presumably, value. We thus find that since the imported product is not essentially of paper or paperboard, it cannot be considered a diary, notebook or similar article of such material, as provided for in heading 4820, HTS.

The applicable subheading for the binder/organizer will be 3926.10.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for other articles of plastics...office or school supplies. The rate of duty will be 5.3 percent ad valorem.

Importations of this merchandise may be subject to the provisions of Section 133 of the Customs Regulations if it copies or simulates a trademark, tradename, or copyright registered with the United States Customs Service.

We note that the front page of the paper insert is marked, "Distributed by Stuart Hall Co., Inc., Kansas City, MO 64120 USA." The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article.

Section 134.46, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.46), requires that in any case in which the words "United States," or "American," the letters "U.S.A.," any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was manufactured or produced, appears on an imported article or its container, there shall appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to such words, letters, or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by "Made in," Product of," or other words of similar meaning.

In order to satisfy the close proximity requirement, the country of origin marking must generally appear on the same side(s) or surface(s) in which the name or locality other than the actual country of origin appears.

The cover/organizer contains a sewn in fabric label in the inside spine. Printed on the front of the label are the words "100% PVC." Printed on the reverse of the label are the words "Made in China." Depending on how the binder portion with plastic back is slipped into the vertical pocket, the label with the country of origin marking may be partially or even completely obscured. Even when the label is visible, the consumer must turn the label over to read the country of origin, while the domestic address on the top sheet of paper is in plain sight. The result is that the country of origin marking is not as conspicuous as the domestic address. This office does not consider the present marking to satisfy the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Joan Mazzola at 212-466-5580.


Robert B. Swierupski

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