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NY F85160

April 11, 2000

MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:234 F85160


Mr. Julian L. Goosens
Authentic Models Inc.
P.O. Box 520
Creswell, OR 97426-0520


Dear Mr. Goosens:

This is in response to your letter dated March 27, 2000 requesting a ruling on whether the country of origin marking proposed for certain blank books is acceptable. A marked sample identified as a “leather bound writing journal” (item #LC015) was submitted with your letter for review.

The sample consists of a quantity of 4½” x 6½” sheets of blank paper permanently bound within a leather cover. The marbled end-leaf paper at the back of the book bears a printed, ½”- square “Authentic Models” (“AM”) logo, centered near the bottom of the page, immediately followed by the following wording:

© Authentic Models
Zeewolde NL
Creswell OR USA

The upper-case letters of the foregoing wording are approximately 1/16” in height, while the lower-case letters are about 1/32”.

Upon initial examination of the sample, we were under the impression that the journal was made in the Netherlands, and that you, by implication, were raising the issue of whether “NL” is an acceptable abbreviation for that country, for marking purposes. (Your letter did not actually identify the country of origin or discuss the marking on the sample.) However, upon further scrutiny we discovered the following legend near the lower left corner of the same end-leaf page described above: “Handmade and bound in India.” This wording is printed vertically, so that one must rotate the book 90 degrees in order to read it. The lettering appears to be of a slightly smaller size than the “Zeewolde/Creswell” marking described above. 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), deals with cases 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, and those words, letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of origin. In such a case, 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.

Customs has previously ruled that vertically oriented country of origin marking can be accepted in some instances, provided that it can be found easily and read without strain. In this case, we find that the phrase “Handmade and bound in India” can neither be found easily nor read without strain. It tends to blend in with, or be camouflaged by, the colors and designs surrounding it. (It consists of white characters on a burgundy background. The marbled paper on which it appears is largely burgundy and incorporates some irregular white flecks and stripes.) On the other hand, the large “AM” logo, which exhibits contrasting colors, draws the viewer’s eye toward it and its accompanying legends. There is no such visual prompt, or any other compelling reason, for a prospective purchaser to turn the product sideways and look at an area not manifestly containing any other information of interest. And even if a viewer happens to notice the vertical legend, he or she might well find it difficult to read, since most of the characters are in lower case and are less than 1/32” in height.

Thus, even though the “India” marking appears on the same page as the references to “NL” and “USA ,” it does not in this case satisfy either general country of origin marking requirements or CR 134.46. For the reasons discussed above, it cannot easily be seen and read upon casual examination of the article. And, in light of the conspicuousness of the “AM” logo with its accompanying “NL” and “USA” references, it does little to prevent the ultimate purchaser from being confused, misled or deceived as to the country of origin.

The proposed marking of imported journals, as described above, fails to satisfy the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134 and is not an acceptable country of origin marking for the imported merchandise.

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 212-637-7060.


Robert B. Swierupski

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