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NY I83426

July 29, 2002

MAR-2-90:RR:NC:N1:105 I83426


Mr. Robert M. Lynch
Mohawk Customs & Shipping Corp.
P.O. Box 3065
Syracuse, New York 13220-3065

RE: The marking of compasses, keyrings, and whistles, repacking, assembly

Dear Mr. Lynch:

In your letter dated June 27, 2002, for Johnson Outdoors Inc., you requested a marking ruling.

You submitted 23 unpackaged samples with tied-on manila labels showing their country of origin (c of o), 18 of which are essentially compasses, 4 of which are Meteors in different colors, keyrings with very small compasses, and one of which is Multi-Function 4 in 1, a 3 inch long plastic whistle with mini - thermometer, compass, and magnifying glass built in. You also submitted 3 of the 18 compasses in retail packages. The tied-on labels will not be on any imports.

Regarding the unpackaged compasses, we agree that that the Landmark is not legally marked, especially since it is inconspicuously marked, mostly blocked by a pin. We do not find any of the unpackaged compasses to be marked as legibly as the nature of the article will allow per Customs Regulation (CR) 134.11.

Although you do not explicitly so state, we take it from your letter that the unpackaged compasses will be imported in cartons clearly marked with their c of o and that you will seek an exemption from individual c of o marking under CR 134.32-d. We note that they at least some are not only repacked since the packaging of both the Trekker and Ranger CL refer to a textile lanyard which is not part of the unpackaged samples you sent. You have given no information about this, especially whether the c of o of the lanyards is the same as that of the compasses, so CR 134.14 may apply in some cases.

Leaving aside assembly issues, the decision of whether to permit exemption under 134.32-d for repackaged merchandise is, per CR 134.34, at the discretion of the appropriate port directors of Customs, currently Syracuse and Rochester. Among other things, the port director is responsible for assessing the credibility of your factual statements in any certification accepted.

Regarding the marking on the packages, we would not consider the Made in Finland marking on the Polaris to be sufficiently legible if it were on an import. The lower case vowels are about 1/32 inch tall. Even with clear black printing on a white background, this is just too tiny. It is in close proximity to and in approximately the same size print as the Binghamton, NY so it would be acceptable in that regard. We would consider the similar, but larger, Made in Finland marking on the Ranger CL and the Trekker to be marginally acceptable. For those two, the lower case vowels look to be a little less than 1/16 high.

You state, “We are looking for a ruling that is consistent in method and style of marking” That we cannot do since even choices such as molded-in markings without contrasting color can be sufficiently legible if they are large and/or deep enough, and they are certainly excellent in regards to permanence. The importer does appear to be able to judge printing that the public can readily read when it is information that they apparently believe will help sell the product. A good example is the “Ergonomically-Designed Base Plate” on the front of the Polaris packaging. Although much smaller than the print in the style name Polaris, etc, in that the lower case vowels appear to be slightly taller than 1/16 inch, the unobstructed, uncrowded, black print on the light green background is unquestionably legible to anyone with 20/20 vision. You can use that degree of legibility as a general guide.

Regarding the Meteor Compass/Keyrings, the samples you provided are marked with their country of origin in tiny letters in a non-contrasting color on the backs of the compasses. This marking by itself is not sufficiently conspicuous. In HQ 733940 (October 24, 1991), involving the country of marking of pens, certain factors were considered in determining if the country of origin marking on an article is conspicuous within the meaning of 19 C.F.R. §134.41 and 19 U.S.C. 1304. Among the factors considered were the size of the marking, the location of the marking, whether the marking stands out, and the legibility of the marking. The marking should be large enough so that the ultimate purchasers can easily see it without strain. The marking should be in a place where the ultimate purchaser could expect to find it or could easily notice it from a causal inspection. Whether the marking stands out is dependent on where it appears in relationship to other print on the article and whether it is in contrasting letters to the background. The legibility of the marking concerns the clarity of the letters and whether the ultimate purchaser could read the letters of the marking without strain. In some cases, even if the marking is small, the use of contrasting colors, which make the letters particularly stand out, could compensate to make the marking acceptable.

Applying these factors to the samples, we note that the letters of the marking are in a non-contrasting color, difficult to see and must be held up to a light to be read. The marking cannot be read without strain. Accordingly, the marking on the back of the compasses is not sufficiently conspicuous and legible to satisfy the requirements. Use of a contrasting color may make the marking acceptable, but we cannot rule on such acceptability without examining an actual sample. The marking does not necessarily have to be in black. In some instances, another color may prove to be more contrasting.

Regarding the marking of the Multi-Function 4 in 1 whistle, your inquiry does not provide information for us to give a marking ruling on the multi function article consisting of a compass, thermometer, magnifying glass and whistle. Your request for a marking ruling should include the country of origin of each component and the country where the components are assembled into the finished product. When this information is available, you may wish to consider resubmission of your request. We are returning in a separate mailing your sample of the Multi-Function 4 in 1. If you decide to resubmit your request regarding the 4 in 1, please include all of the material that we have returned to you.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 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 marking of the Meteors, contact National Import Specialist J. Smyth at 646-733-3018. If you have any questions regarding the marking of the Multi-Function 4 in 1, contact National Import Specialist G. Kalkines at 646-733-3028. If you have any other questions regarding this letter, contact National Import Specialist J. Sheridan at 646-733-3012.


Robert B. Swierupski

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