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HQ 965052

May 13, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965052 BJB


TARIFF NO.: 8543.89.96

Mr. Jody Noto
Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas
5700 N.W. Pacific Rim Boulevard, M/S 20
Camas, WA 98607

RE: Memory boards

Dear Mr. Noto:

This is in response to a letter dated March 26, 2001, from Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas (“Sharp”), to the Director, Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting a ruling on the classification of memory boards with combined flash memory and static random access memory integrated circuits (“memory boards”), pursuant to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Sharp’s letter and attachments were referred to this office for reply. We regret the delay.


Sharp submitted documentation for memory board model “LRS1382” as representative of the subject memory boards. The LRS1382 memory board contains a 32 MB flash memory and an 8 MB static random access memory (“SRAM”) integrated circuit. These chips are placed one on top of the other and glued together with epoxy. They are then wire-bonded to a lead-frame. The lead-frame is composed of two signal layers to prevent shorting of the circuits.

The memory boards are incorporated into electronic products requiring compact SRAM and flash memory storage. Sharp claims they are “used in any type of product in which space is at a premium.”

The memory boards are used to integrate information management applications including faxes, e-mail, global positioning systems, telephone directories, airline and other on-line reservations, maps, internet browsing, and news clipping services. They are for use in a variety of host devices, including digital cameras, handheld ADP machines, radios, personal digital assistants (“PDAs”), personal communicators/pagers, audio recorders/MP3s, and cellular telephones.

In its request for a ruling, Sharp sought classification under subheading 8542.13.80, HTSUS, which at that time, provided for, “[e]lectronic integrated circuits and microassemblies; parts thereof: Monolithic digital integrated circuits: Metal oxide semiconductors (MOS technology): Other[.]” Under the current tariff (HTSUS, 14th Edition, 2002), published and amended pursuant to section 1207 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-418; 19 U.S.C. 3007), and section 484(f) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1484(f)), subheading 8542.21.80, now provides for “[e]lectronic integrated circuits and microassemblies; parts thereof: Monolithic integrated circuits: Other[.]”


What is the classification of the subject memory boards?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 98-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8542 Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies; parts thereof:

8543 Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter, parts thereof:


8543.89.96 Other:

At GRI 1, Sharp claims the subject memory boards, should be classified as “monolithic electronic integrated circuits” covered by heading 8542, HTSUS. Heading 8542, provides for “[e]lectronic integrated circuits and microassemblies; parts thereof[.]”

Chapter 85, legal Note 5, HTSUS, in pertinent part, provides that “[f]or the classification of the articles defined in this note, headings 8541 and 8542 shall take precedence over any other heading in the tariff schedule which might cover them by reference to, in particular, their function.” Thus, before considering heading 8543, HTSUS, we must first consider heading 8542, HTSUS.

The memory boards contain two fully integrated circuits and a host of other components. The flash memory and SRAM integrated circuits are separate microcircuits mounted on a lead-frame to create a memory board. These memory boards also contain other components including the lead-frame, connector pins, and wire leads.

Chapter 85, Note 5(b), also provides that, “[f]or the purposes of headings 8541 and 8542: “[e]lectronic integrated circuits and microassemblies” [include,] “(i) Monolithic integrated circuits in which the circuit elements (diodes, transistors, resistors, capacitors, interconnections, etc.) are created in the mass (essentially) and on the surface of a semiconductor material (doped silicon, for example) and are inseparably associated[.]” Prima facie, the flash memory and SRAM integrated circuits are not created together in the mass. They are also not formed on the same surface of a semiconductor material, or inseparably associated. Heading 8542, therefore, does not describe the subject memory boards because the mounting of a flash memory chip and an SRAM chip on a lead-frame takes the merchandise beyond the terms of that heading.

Moreover, EN 85.42 provides in pertinent part: “. . . the heading also excludes assemblies formed by mounting one or more discrete components on a support formed, for example by a printed circuit and assemblies formed by adding to an electronic microcircuit either one or more other microcircuits of the same or different types or one or more other devices, such as diodes, transformers, resistors.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Heading 8543 covers electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in chapter 85, and parts thereof. The subject memory boards provide additional memory for use in a variety of handheld electronic and communication devices. The memory boards provide flash and SRAM memory. Their purpose is to combine the benefits of non-volatile data block storage of the flash memory chip, with the accelerated access to stored data, provided by the SRAM. Thus, they have an individual function. They are also not covered more specifically by a heading of any other chapter of the Nomenclature, nor excluded by the Legal Notes to Section XVI, or Chapter 85.

Subheading 8543.89.96, HTSUS, describes the memory boards. Having established that the subject merchandise satisfies the terms provided in heading 8543, HTSUS, at GRI 1, consideration of any other headings is precluded.


At GRI 1, the Sharp LRS 1382 memory boards with a flash memory chip and a SRAM chip are classifiable in subheading 8543.89.96, HTSUS, which provides for “[e]lectrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter, parts thereof: Other: Other.”


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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