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HQ 963436

January 12, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963436 jb


TARIFF NO: 9404.90.9560

Peter J. Allen, Esq.
Neville, Peterson & Williams
80 Broad Street, Suite 3400
New York, NY 10004

RE: Modification of HQ 959017; Classification of featherbeds

Dear Mr. Allen:

On June 2, 1999, this office issued to you, on behalf of your client, Natural Feather and Textiles, Inc., Headquarter Ruling Letter (HQ) 959017, wherein featherbeds were reclassified in subheading 9404.90.8505, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, pursuant to the decision issued in PillowTex Corporation v. United States, 983 F. Supp. 188, Slip Op. 97-146, dated October 28, 1997, aff’d, Slip Op. 98-1227 (Fed. Cir. March 16, 1999). Upon review of that ruling, it is Customs belief that despite the fact that the subject featherbeds are similar to the down comforters addressed in PillowTex, and are subject to the analysis set forth by that court, the classification determination at the eight digit level that was given for the featherbeds in HQ 959017 is incorrect. As such, although it is still Customs belief that the essential character of the subject featherbeds is imparted by the internal feather stuffing, the proper classification for that merchandise is modified pursuant to the analysis that follows below.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), notice of the proposed modification of HQ 959017 was published on November 24, 1999, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 33, Number 47. One comment was received wherein the question was raised wherther the section 625(c) procedure was appropriate. We feel that it was appropriate.


The merchandise addressed in HQ 959017 consists of a “Naturelle” Baffle Box Featherbed. The featherbed features a 100 percent woven cotton inner shell constructed with interior baffles and stuffed with a blend of feathers. The outer shell is also of 100 percent woven cotton and has box-edge styling and piping measuring less than 6.35 mm around the edges.


What is the proper classification for the merchandise?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied, in the order of their appearance.

Heading 9404, HTSUS, provides for mattress supports; articles of bedding and similar furnishing (for example, mattresses, quilts, eiderdowns, cushions, poufs and pillows) fitted with springs or stuffed or internally fitted with any material or of cellular rubber or plastics, whether or not covered. Although featherbeds are neither specifically provided for at the heading nor at the subheading level, they are commonly marketed and used as an adjunct to a mattress, that is, in providing support and comfort to the sleeper. In this respect, they are not similar to quilts and comforters as the sleeper lies on top of this merchandise in order to give the mattress a softer or more supple characteristic, i,e, rendering the mattress more comfortable. Although the sleeper does not place the merchandise over him for warmth, as with a comforter or quilt, the subject merchandise is still used as an item of bedding. As such, the proper classification for this merchandise is in the appropriate subheading of this heading as an other item of bedding, under subheading 9404.90.95. More specifically, subheading 9404.90.9550, HTSUSA, based on the cotton outer shell, or subheading 9404.90.9560, HTSUSA, based on the internal feather stuffing.

GRI 2(b) directs that goods consisting of more than one material or substance are to be classified according to the principles of GRI 3. GRI 3(a) provides, in pertinent part, that when two or more headings refer to part only of the materials or substances in a composite good, the headings are to be considered equally specific. As the subject merchandise consists of both an outer shell made of textile fabric and an inner filling of feathers, each heading refers only in part to the subject merchandise, and both headings are considered equally specific. Thus, GRI 3(a) is not applicable.

GRI 3(b) provides that mixtures and composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, shall be classified as if they consisted of the materials or component which gives them their essential character. In PillowTex Corporation v. United States, 983 F. Supp. 188, Slip Op. 97-146, dated October 28, 1997, in classifying comforters constructed with a down proof outer shell made of woven cotton and an internal stuffing of down, the court determined that the essential character of the down comforter was found in its ability to insulate and wick moisture away from a sleeping person while maintaining a comfortable temperature. These characteristics were attributed to the down. In reviewing the facts for the subject featherbeds it is the opinion of this office that the court’s comments with respect to the down can similarly be applied to the feathers which are internally stuffed in the subject merchandise. The down and the feathers have virtually identical characteristics, making them both ideal for purposes of warmth and comfort, and are to be distinguished from any other type of fabric or internal stuffing found in similar merchandise.

As we stated in HQ 959017, “Although we are aware that there are rulings issued prior to the determination in PillowTex which held that the essential character of similar merchandise was not imparted by the internal feather stuffing but by the fabric outer shell, those rulings precede the court’s decision in PillowTex and are thus void by operation of law.” Accordingly, the classification of the subject merchandise is premised on the essential character being imparted by the feathers and classification devolves to subheading 9404.90.9560, HTSUSA.


The subject merchandise is properly classified in subheading 9404.90.9560, HTSUSA, which provides for mattress supports; articles of bedding and similar furnishing (for example, mattresses, quilts, eiderdowns, cushions, pouffes and pillows) fitted with springs or stuffed or internally fitted with any material or of cellular rubber or plastics, whether or not covered: other: other: other: other: other. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 10.2 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 899.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent negotiations and changes, we suggest that your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) categories, your client should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

HQ 969017 dated June 2, 1999, is hereby modified. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.

John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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