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HQ 966025

July 22, 2003

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 966025 TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8471.60.45

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
301 East Ocean Blvd.,
Long Beach, CA 90802

RE: I/A 02/005; 50-Inch Gas Plasma Display Monitor; HQ 965390 Distinguished.

Dear Port Director:

This is in reference to HQ 965390, dated August 2, 2002 issued in response to a request for Internal Advice (IA 02/005), dated October 17, 2001, by counsel on behalf of Pioneer Electronics (USA), Inc. (“Pioneer”) concerning the classification of the Pioneer PDP-503CMX 50 Gas Plasma Monitor under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”).

In that ruling, Customs ruled that the PDP-503CMX was classified under subheading 8528.21.70, HTSUS. For the reasons set forth below, we now find that the PDP-503CMX is classified under subheading 8471.60.45, HTSUS. In reaching this determination, consideration was given to additional information supplied by Pioneer in submissions dated October 15, 2002 and February 3, 2003, as well as information provided in a demonstration of the merchandise by Pioneer and their counsel on February 13, 2003.

Because of the fact specific nature of this decision, if there are any modifications or changes to this product or the information submitted with this reconsideration request a new ruling should be sought.


The product is described in HQ 965390 as follows:

The Pioneer PDP-503CMX Plasma Monitor is a 50-inch high-resolution gas plasma monitor. The PDP-503CMX Plasma Monitor has a 1,280 x 768 pixel configuration. The device is capable of accurately displaying computer signals ranging from 640 x 400 and 640 x 480 (VGA) to 1,024 x 768 (XGA) and 1,280 x 768 (Wide XGA). It has a pixel pitch of 0.858 mm x 0.808 mm and is completely compatible with data processors that utilize the VESA VGA through UXGA standards. The screen has an aspect ratio of 16:9.

The product does not contain a video tuner or television receiver. The monitor has a depth of less than 4 inches or 98 mm and a weight of 85.12 pounds, or 38.9 kg. The technology allows viewing images on the screen in a breadth of 160 degrees without seeing any image distortion. The monitor has connectors for speakers, RS-232C, 2 mini D-sub 15-pin VGA-compatible ports, and RGBHV-signal (Red Green Blue Horizontal sync and Vertical sync) BNC jacks.

According to the product literature, the PDP-503CMX is designed to meet a variety of application requirements such as use as information displays at airports, train stations and other public places, visual displays at trade shows and other events, industrial control and monitoring, and electronic advertising. Counsel also claims that it can be used to display automatic data processing (ADP) information in presentations to groups of people.

The information provided by counsel indicates that the monitor does not have a television receiver or tuner and that the monitor cannot be used with any standard television tuner, conventional television receiver or video reproduction device. Counsel asserts that it is incapable of decoding or displaying video or television signals such as RF-modulated video and audio signal, Composite video (NTSC, PAL, SECAM, etc.), Component Video or High Definition Component video without the addition of the PDA-5002 Video Card. Product literature for this optional video card indicate that the card contains input connectors for S-Video, Digital RGB and BNC composite video that would allow the plasma display monitor to accept video signals.

Additionally, in their February demonstration, Pioneer showed that the PDP-503CMX can accept input sync frequencies from 24.0 to 106.3 KHz horizontally, and 56 to 85 Hz vertically. The PDP-503CMX cannot accept or display any type of input signal with sync rates less than 56 Hz vertical or 24.8 KHz horizontal, or signals using anything other than the computer display standard format of Red, Green and Blue image data. Also, the PDP-503CMX can only accept and display image data that complies with VESA standards for computer signals. It operates with an asynchronous screen refresh that is fixed at 70 Hz, regardless of the input signals refresh.

During our meeting on February 3, 2002, counsel further indicated that the optional PDA-5002 video card functioned as something greater than a mere connector to various video components. Rather, it contained the hardware and software necessary to allow the PDA-503CMX to function as a video monitor. None of the electronic circuitry necessary for this function is present in the monitor in its condition as imported.


Whether the Pioneer PDP-503CMX Plasma Monitor is classifiable as an automatic data processing (ADP) unit under heading 8471, HTSUS, or as a video monitor under heading 8528, HTSUS?


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.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“ENs”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Automatic data processing machines and units thereof

Input or output units, whether or not containing storage units in the same housing:




8471.60.4580 Other.

Reception apparatus for television; video monitors and video projectors:

Video monitors:


With a flat panel screen:


8528.21.70 Other.

To be classified as an ADP output unit within heading 8471, HTSUS, the subject merchandise must meet the terms of Legal Note 5(B) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, which provides that:

(B) Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separate units. Subject to paragraph (E) below, a unit is to be regarded as being a part of a complete system if it meets all the following conditions:

(a) It is of a kind solely or principally used in an automatic data processing system;

It is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and

It is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system.

Customs has previously ruled on gas plasma displays where the importers have claimed possible classification under heading 8471, HTSUS. See HQ 961466, dated April 6, 1999; HQ 962677, dated September 23, 1999, affirmed in HQ 963314, dated July 30, 2001. Although the importers claimed that the displays were capable of being used as monitors for ADP machines, Customs has consistently held that this type of merchandise is classifiable under heading 8528, HTSUS. In the above cases, while the merchandise was similar to that which is presently before us, the gas plasma displays were multifunctional displays. They possessed the capabilities to be used both with ADP machines as well as function as video monitors. Accordingly, the merchandise covered by those rulings is factually distinguishable from the plasma displays subject to the present ruling. The classifications contained in the above-cited rulings are affirmed by this decision. The importers covered by the those rulings should not cite to or rely upon this decision as a basis for reclassification just as Pioneer should not rely on this ruling if factual changes or modifications are made to the PDP-503CMX. Similarly, based on the information that was originally presented in HQ 965390 to Customs, the ruling was consistent with the treatment of other similar merchandise and therefore correct. Pioneer has subsequently presented additional evidence, however, which distinguishes the PDP-503CMX from those other rulings and which we will examine in this ruling.

The importer claims that the PDP-503CMX is also used in conjunction with ADP machines, but unlike the models that Customs has previously ruled on, this display has been specifically engineered so as to be incapable of functioning as a video display at its time of importation by intentionally omitting the electronic components and software necessary for displaying video signals. Because it can only accepting computer signals, this monitor was engineered to be more akin to ADP system displays. To that end, during a demonstration for Customs in February 2003, engineers for Pioneer connected the PDP-503CMX to a variety of electronic devices, including an ADP machine, a VCR, a progressive scan DVD player, a television antenna and a satellite television receiver, and showed that as imported, the only signal the merchandise would accept was that from the ADP machine. While the PDP-503CMX did display a signal when connected to the progressive scan DVD player, the image produced was a small, green reproduction of the movie used in the test. The reason for this was explained thusly:

A progressive video signal has the same horizontal and vertical frequencies as a VGA computer signal, so the PDP-503 CMX tries to process and display the signal as if it were VGA. Progressive video is actually very different than computer VGA

The most important difference between computer VGA and progressive (or line doubled) video is the difference in color systems. ADP machines are always RGB, while video is almost always Component., so all that is shown is a distorted green image displayed at an incorrect (70Hz) refresh rate.

Furthermore, Pioneer demonstrated how this model would not accept or display any type of input signal with sync rates less than 56 Hz vertical or 24.8 KHz horizontal, while NTSC video, whether RF, composite, YC, component or RGB, has synchronization signals of 15.75 KHz horizontally and 59.987545 Hz vertically with alternate line interlaced scanning. The PDP-503CMX measures the horizontal and vertical frequencies of each signal and then looks for a matching signal definition in its look up table. If a match is found, then the appropriate data from the look up table is used to configure the plasma’s image electronics. If no match is found then the plasma stops and shows a black screen, followed by an “OUT OF RANGE” warning. Pioneer indicates that the PDP-503CMX contains none of the electronic components, software or hardware necessary to accept video signals. Rather, these reside in the PDA-5002 Optional Video Card.

The PDP-503CMX also has a screen refresh rate fixed at 70 Hz, regardless of the input signals refresh, while consumer video monitors operate with a screen refresh based on the NTSC standard of 60 Hz. This is in order to facilitate the highest quality computer data images without screen flicker.

We note that if any of the electronic components, software or hardware were present in the monitor itself, or if the PDP-503CMX were to be imported with the optional video tuner card installed, then Customs would hold that the display was classifiable under heading 8528, HTSUS, as a multi-functional video monitor, in accordance with its previous above-referenced rulings.

The inputs available on the PDP-503CMX consist of an ADP industry standard HD 15 RGB PC video connector, which supports DDC identification for plug-and-play interfacing as per VESA and Microsoft WHOL specifications. This input has a corresponding output that also uses a HD 15, connector. Also available is a set of 5 BNC connectors. These connectors serve the same purpose as the HD 15, but are designed to facilitate longer cable lengths by using shielded coax cable. The PDP-503CMX lacks any other connectors that are normally associated with television tuners, such as RCA, F, and SVHS.

Based on the information contained in this ruling and the submission made in conjunction with this reconsideration request, we find that the merchandise meets the terms of Legal Note 5(B) to Chapter 84, HTSUS. Although modifications exist which would enable the display to accept various other forms of video signals, in its condition as imported, the PDP-503CMX is not capable of doing so. When examining the classification of merchandise, Customs looks to the condition of the product at the time it is imported. See United States v. Citroen, 223 U.S. 407 (1911); and XTC Products, Inc. v. United States, 771 F.Supp. 401, 405 (1991). This merchandise contains none of the electronic components or software necessary for the display of video signals at the time of importation.


For the reasons stated above, by application of GRI 1, the Pioneer PDP-503CMX gas plasma display is classified under subheading 8471.60.45, HTSUS, which provides for display units for automatic data processing machines other than with cathode ray tubes.


HQ 965390 is distinguished based on the additional facts presented.


Myles B. Harmon, Director

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