United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2002 HQ Rulings > HQ 965435 - HQ 965511 > HQ 965467

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 965467

September 17, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965467 BJB


TARIFF NO.: 7014.00.20

Mr. Lawrence M. Friedman
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
303 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601

RE: Float glass monitor filter; Optical elements of glass

Dear Mr. Friedman:

This is in response to your letter of December 7, 2001 on behalf of Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company (“3M”), requesting the classification of certain “float glass monitor filters,” under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter and attachments were referred to this office for reply. In preparing this ruling, we also gave consideration to your letters of August 16, and September 5, 2002, and telephone discussions held with a member of my staff on August 2, 8, and September 12, and 17, 2002.


The glass monitor filters are made of tinted and coated float glass mounted in a plastic frame. The filters are available in a range of dimensions compatible with many standard-sized computer monitors. Metal oxide or nitride coatings are applied to the float glass to reduce monitor glare and improve user visual comfort. The goods provide anti-glare, anti-static, and in some cases, anti-radiation (ELF/VLF E-field radiation) filtering. They also absorb ambient light from overhead lighting and sunlight that reflect off a computer monitor screen.

The glass used for the subject goods starts as clear float glass or greylite glass for tinted monitor filters, which is heated until it becomes molten. The molten glass is “floated” onto a bath of molten tin at a temperature of about 1000 degrees Centigrade. The glass, which is highly viscous, and the tin, which is very fluid, do not mix and the contact surface between the two materials is perfectly flat. On leaving the bath of molten tin, the glass has cooled down sufficiently to pass to an annealing chamber. The glass is then hard enough to pass over rollers and is annealed, which modifies the internal stresses of the
glass enabling it to be cut, and worked in a predictable way, and ensuring the flatness of the glass. As both surfaces are fire finished, they need no grinding or polishing. The glass is washed and then “sputter coated” with multiple layers of metal oxide anti-reflective coatings. The coated glass is then cut to size, and placed into a plastic frame which is press-fit together around the glass.


Are the subject float glass monitor filters classifiable in heading 9002, HTSUS, as “[l]enses, prisms, mirrors and other optical elements, of any material, mounted, being parts of or fittings for instruments or apparatus, other than such elements of glass not optically worked; parts and accessories thereof[;]” in heading 7014, HTSUS, as “[s]ignaling glassware and optical elements of glass (other than those of heading 7015), not optically worked[;]” or, in heading 8473, HTSUS, as “[p]arts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of headings 8469 to 8472“?


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.

Customs has previously addressed the classification of filters for monitors of automated data processing machines, inter alia, in Headquarters Ruling Letters (“HQs”) 959905, dated January 22, 1999; 960896, dated November 25, 1998; 950873, dated February 13, 1992; 089524, dated July 12, 1991; 084653, dated September 13, 1989; and New York Ruling Letters (“NYs”) F84930, dated April 17, 2000; 807234, dated March 23, 1995; A83489, dated May 31, 1996; 809583, dated May 19, 1995; and 878302, dated October 19, 1992; and 863130, dated May 20, 1991. However, these rulings pertained to monitor and other filters that were made of textile mesh, acrylic plastic, or glass classifiable under heading 9002, as “optically worked.”

Chapter 70 of the HTSUS provides for glass and glassware and Chapter 90 provides for optical instruments and apparatus. Note 1(e) to Chapter 90, HTSUS, provides that the chapter does not cover: “[g]oods of heading 7007, 7008, 7011, 7014, 7015 or 7017 [emphasis added],” and Chapter Note 1(d) to Chapter 70, HTSUS, states that the chapter does not cover ". . . optically worked elements . . . or other articles of chapter 90[.]" Accordingly, if the float glass monitor filters are described in chapter 90, they are not classifiable in one of the above headings of chapter 70, or in chapter 84.

Thus, we must determine whether the subject goods have “optically worked elements” that fall under Chapter 90. Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 90, provides that “[f]or the purposes of headings 9001 and 9002, the term “optically worked” refers to glass the surface of which has been ground or polished in order to produce the required optical properties.” Glass with optical qualities that has not been “optically worked” is properly classifiable in Chapter 70.

The optical properties of the float glass filters used in the subject goods reduce glare and provide visual comfort to the user. These goods also provide for filtering light rays, and ELF/VLF e-field radiation (“e-field radiation”). These properties are produced by the float glassmaking method, ingredients, and coatings used and not by polishing. Heading 9002, in pertinent part, provides for “[o]ther optical elements, of any material, mounted, being parts of or fittings for instruments or apparatus, other than such elements of glass not optically worked; parts and accessories thereof[.]” As noted above, and based upon documentation provided, this float glass is not “optically worked,” and therefore, the goods are not classifiable under headings 9001, or 9002, HTSUS, or elsewhere under chapter 90, HTSUS.

Because the subject goods do not fall under chapter 90, we must determine whether they fall under heading 7014, which provides for, in pertinent part, “optical elements of glass . . ., not optically worked.”

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. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Heading 7014, HTSUS, covers, in pertinent part, “[o]ptical elements of glass (colourless or coloured)[.]” EN 70.14 states that it includes glass which is manufactured in a way that produces “some required optical effect without being optically worked,” including those which have obtained an optical property through a specific manufacturing process.

Although neither the Chapter or Section Notes, nor the ENs, explain the meaning of the term “optical elements,” the Court of International Trade has held that the term “optical elements” includes those goods which act upon, deal with, or route rays of light. (Celestaire, Inc. v. The United States, 928 F. Supp. 1174, 1177 (CIT 1996), cited in HQ 960896, dated November 25, 1998). Customs has previously ruled that fire polished lenses obtain their optical properties by the process of molding the glass so as to produce the required optical property without being ground and polished and are properly classified under heading 7014, HTSUS. See HQ 951709, October 5, 1992. The subject glass filters have obtained specific optical properties through the specified manufacturing processes that reduce glare produced by light, whether emitted from the monitor or from external lighting sources, and also filter certain types of e-shield radiation. Therefore, we find that the subject filters meet the terms of heading 7014, HTSUS.

However, EN 70.14 further provides that,

“[t]he articles remain here even if framed, set in a mounting or backed with a reflecting surface, but the recognisable finished articles are excluded (e.g., heading 83.10, in the case of sign-plates, numbers, letters and other signs, of base metal, heading 85.12 in the case of headlamps, headlights or parking lights for cycles or motor vehicles).”

The subject goods are framed or mounted in a plastic frame and the glass is coated or backed with filtering material. However, you argue that the subject goods are “recognizable finished articles,” and therefore, excluded from heading 7014, HTSUS. You claim the goods are more specifically classifiable under heading 8473, HTSUS, supra.

Articles of glass which are further processed or “finished,” inter alia, through trueing, roughing, polishing or grinding, in addition to their optical elements, such as the goods described in headings 8310 and 8512, HTSUS, are considered “recognizable finished goods.” We interpret “recognizable finished goods” to mean those more specifically described in another heading. The subject glass filters, which require no further polishing or grinding, but are framed or mounted in a plastic frame, remain classifiable in heading 7014, HTSUS. Having established that the subject merchandise satisfies the terms provided in heading 7014, HTSUS, at GRI 1, consideration of any other headings in Chapter 70, is precluded.

As stated above, you seek classification of the subject filters as “accessories” for ADP monitors, or units of ADP machines under heading 8473, HTSUS, which in pertinent part, provides for “[p]arts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of headings 8469 to 8472[.]”

We note that Chapter 70, General Explanatory Notes provide “Chapter [70] covers all forms and articles of glass (other than goods excluded by Note 1 to this Chapter or covered more specifically by other headings of the Nomenclature).” Note 1 to Chapter 84 does not provide such an exclusion from Chapter 70. Moreover, General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 84 provide that, “[s]ince machinery or appliances (for example, pumps) of ceramic material and ceramic parts of machinery or appliances of any material (Chapter 69), laboratory glassware (heading 70.17) and machinery and appliances and parts thereof, of glass (heading 70.19 or 70.20) are excluded from this Chapter, it follows that even if a machine or mechanical appliance is covered, because of its description or nature, by a heading of this Chapter it is not to be classified therein if it has the character of an article of ceramic materials or of glass.” Nonetheless, you argue that heading 8473, HTSUS, more specifically provides for the subject filters, as an “accessory” to a unit of an ADP machine.

Customs has addressed the classification of “accessories” under the HTSUS, inter alia, in HQ 964780, dated January 21, 2002, and HQ 087704, dated September 27, 1990. In HQ 087704, September 27, 1990, this office considered the classification of “accessories” under the HTSUS and stated as follows:

“the term ‘accessory’ is not defined in either the tariff schedule or the Explanatory Notes. An accessory is generally an article which is not necessary to enable the goods with which it is used to fulfill their intended function. An accessory must be identifiable as being intended solely or principally for use with a specific article. Accessories are of secondary importance, not essential in and of themselves. They must, however, somehow contribute to the effectiveness of the principal article (e.g., facilitate the use or handling of the principle article, widen the range of its uses, or improve its operation).”

The current EN 84.73 defines “accesssories” as “interchangeable parts or devices designed to adapt a machine for a particular operation, or to perform a particular service relative to the main function of the machine, or to increase its range of operations.”

In Rollerblade, Inc., v. United States, 116 F. Supp. 2d 1247, C.I.T. Slip. Op. 00-104 (2000), the court held that the common meaning of the term “accessory” indicated a direct relationship to the thing accessorized. Id. at 1253. In that case, Rollerblade, Inc. argued that their protective gear was used exclusively with and as an accessory to in-line skates. They claimed that use of the protective gear increased the safety, comfort and effectiveness of in-line roller skates, and therefore, ought to be classified as an accessory. The court disagreed:

“. . . each of the items classified as an “accessory” added in some way to the thing accessorized. In this case, however, the protective gear does not add anything to the skates themselves, but rather improves the in-line skating experience because of an “addition” to the in-line skater in the form of protective gear. The skates themselves continue to function exactly as they would if the skater were not wearing protective gear. Thus, because the primary relation between the protective gear and the skates is not between the gear and the skates themselves, the protective gear cannot be considered an accessory to roller skates.” Id. at 1254-55.

As noted above, the subject filters are made of float glass, not “optically worked,” cut to fit a particular size, set in a plastic frame or mounting, and in most models, tinted and coated, with reflecting or anti-glare coatings. The filters are designed to reduce glare, both that emitted from ADP monitors, and that produced from external and background light sources. Further, the filters, depending on the model, are said to reduce certain e-field radiation exposure to the user, providing a protective function.

These float glass filters are used with ADP monitors. This is confirmed by marketing materials submitted by 3M, and they are identifiable as being solely or principally intended for use with ADP monitors. While the subject goods add to a user’s visual comfort, and in some limited cases, also dependant upon the model, provide additional privacy features, they do not facilitate the use or handling of the monitor, widen the range of its uses, or improve its actual operation. They do not, for example, enable the monitors they are attached to, to perform any additional tasks, operate more quickly, or improve their mobility. The subject goods do not improve or adapt the functioning of ADP monitors as an ADP monitor will function in the same manner whether or not it is mounted with one of these glass filters.

Accordingly, the float glass monitor filters are not “accessories” described under heading 8473, HTSUS, and are not more specifically provided for under that heading. Therefore, classification under heading 8473, HTSUS, is precluded.

By application of GRI 1, we find that the float glass monitor filters are described in subheading 7014.00.20, HTSUS, which provides for “[s]ignaling glassware and optical elements of glass (other than those of heading 7015), not optically worked: Optical elements: Other[.]”


At GRI 1, the subject float glass monitor filters are classifiable in subheading 7014.00.20, HTSUS, which provides for “[s]ignaling glassware and optical elements of glass (other than those of heading 7015), not optically worked: Optical elements: Other[.]”


Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: