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NY C84665

April 22, 1998

CLA-2-95:RR:NC:2:224 C84665


TARIFF NO.: 9506.99.6080; 9506.70.2010; 6506.10.6045

J. Epstein
W. N. Epstein & Co., Inc.
PO Box 45187
St. Louis MO 63145

RE: The tariff classification of roller skate gear from China.

Dear Mr. Epstein:

In your letter dated April 7, 1998, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of Roller Derby Skate Corp.

The merchandise consists of two sets of skate equipment. Set #1, identified as model CA202 "Fun Pak" is comprised of a pair of in-line roller skates, a plastic protective helmet, protective knee guards and elbow guards.

Set #2, Model CA52-01 "Combo Pak" contains a plastic protective helmet, along with protective knee, elbow and wrist guards. The samples will be returned at your request.

The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) set forth the legal framework in which merchandise is to be classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTS). GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Goods that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs taken in order.

The set #1 "Fun Pak" is a single retail package containing four components that are classifiable under three separate headings or subheadings of the tariff. GRI 3 applies when goods are put up for sale collectively and are classifiable under two or more headings of the tariff; GRI 3(b) covers goods put up in sets for retail sale.

The Explanatory Notes represent the official interpretation of the HTS at the international level. Explanatory Note X to GRI 3(b) defines "goods put up in sets for retail sale." Such goods: (a) consist of at least two different articles that are classifiable in different headings, (b) consist of products put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity, and (c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking.

The components of set #1 "Fun Pak" fail, in our opinion, to constitute a set for tariff classification purposes. They meet the criteria of elements (a) and (c) above but their components when put together do not share a common specific activity nor do they collectively address one particular common need. Their only association is that they are all principally intended for use in the sport of roller skating. But where the in-line skates provide the means for skating, the helmet and protective knee and elbow guards contribute to a different need, that is, the user's confidence and protection from injury. Each class of articles performs a role independent of the other. Having failed as a set in accordance with GRI 3(b), the components of set #1 model CA202 "fun pak" must be classified separately.

The applicable subheading for the in-line roller skates will be 9506.70.2010, HTS, which provides for "Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports...:Ice skates and roller skates, including skating boots with skates attached; parts and accessories thereof: Roller skates and parts and accessories thereof." The rate of duty will be free.

The applicable subheading for the protective knee and elbow guards will be 9506.99.6080, HTS, which provides for "Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports...: Other: Other, Other. The rate of duty will be 4.1 percent ad valorem.

The subheading for the protective plastic helmet will be 6506.10.6045, which provides for "Other headgear, whether or not lined or trimmed: Safety headgear: Other, Athletic, recreational and sporting headgear. The rate of duty will be 0.5 percent ad valorem.

Set #2, model CA52-01 "Combo Pak," meets the definition of a set for tariff purposes since (a) at least two of the items are classifiable in different headings (the pads in heading 9506, HTS, the helmet in heading 6506, HTS); (b) the merchandise consists of items put up together to meet a particular need, specifically, the physical protection of the user; and (c) the merchandise, it its retail package, is ready for direct sale without repacking.

Having determined that Set #2, model CA52-01, constitutes a set, we must next discuss an essential character question. GRI 3(b) provides that sets made up of different components shall be classified as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. In general, "essential character" has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish the article.

In the present case, the essential character is not readily apparent. It is our belief that the essential character of model CA52-01 is not distinguished by either the helmet or by the protective guards or pads. Both the pads and the helmet play a more or less equal role in relation to the concept and use to which the article will be put.

When the component which gives the product its essential character cannot be determined, classification is determined by way of GRI 3(c) which directs that when goods cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

The heading which occurs last in numerical order to the two competing headings is 9506, HTS. Accordingly, the subject model #CA52-01 "Combo Pak" is classified in subheading 9506.99.6080, HTS, which provides for "Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports...: Other: Other." The rate of duty will be 4.1 percent ad valorem.

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

A copy of this ruling letter 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 Tom McKenna at 466-5475.


Robert Swierupski
National Commodity

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