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NY C80289

October 8, 1997

MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:234 C80289


Mr. Gary Harrison
Harrison-Daniels, Inc.
560 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632


Dear Mr. Harrison:

This is in response to your letters dated September 29 and October 1, 1997, requesting a ruling on whether the placement of country of origin marking on the containers in which certain advertising novelties are imported will be acceptable in lieu of marking the articles themselves. An unmarked sample novelty, without its import container, was submitted with your letter for review.

The sample is a small structure, made of printed, plastic-covered paper, consisting of several interconnected pyramids which can be manipulated to change the surfaces that are exposed to view. The surfaces are printed with advertising for certain alcoholic beverages. Overall, the article measures roughly 5" x 5" x 2 1/2".

You state that these items will be packed 50 to a box, which in turn will be packed in larger boxes. The import shipment will initially go to Seagram America's warehouse, after which the articles will be sent to that company's individual sales representatives. The latter will then give them out to liquor stores, restaurants, and distributors of the advertised beverages. You indicate that the items will sit on restaurant tables and on counters in liquor stores and distributor warehouses for advertising purposes.

Instead of marking each individual novelty piece, you propose to mark their "outer boxes" with the phrase "Made in Taiwan." (We presume that in this scenario you would actually be marking the large import cartons as well as the smaller boxes containing 50 pieces each.) You state that your customer feels that marking the individual novelty would "interfere with the look of the piece."

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.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Section 134.1(d), defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. If an imported article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the purchaser at retail is the ultimate purchaser. 19 CFR 134.1(d)(4) provides that if an imported article is distributed as a gift, the recipient is the ultimate purchaser. In this case, the ultimate purchaser of the advertising novelty is the restaurant, liquor store or distributor.

An article is excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3)(D) and section 134.32(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.32(d)), if the marking of a container of such article will reasonably indicate the origin of such article. However, this exception is applicable only if Customs is satisfied that the article will remain in its container until it reaches the ultimate purchaser and that the ultimate purchaser can tell the country of origin of the article by viewing the container in which it is packaged.

As noted above, we find here that the "ultimate purchasers" (recipients) will be the liquor stores, restaurants and distributor warehouses. It appears to us that, in the outlined scenario, the novelties will not likely still be in the marked cartons by the time they reach these establishments, which in many instances will presumably be too small to require as many as 50 pieces.

Since we are not assured that the marked containers will reach the ultimate purchasers, the aforementioned exception does not apply, meaning that the individual pieces will be required to be marked with their country of origin. We note that one panel of the submitted sample bears references to the Swedish origin of the advertised brand as well as the New York location of that brand's importer. Placing a phrase such as "Printed and Made in Taiwan," in close proximity to said references and in lettering of comparable size, would be an appropriate way of accomplishing the required marking.

An acceptable alternative would be to package the items in individual bags, boxes or similar sealed containers bearing "Made in/Printed in Taiwan" marking, assuming those containers would reach recipients even when the novelties are distributed singly or in small quantities.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 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 Carl Abramowitz at 212-466-5733.


Robert B. Swierupski

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