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HQ 966475

October 23, 2003

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 966475 DBS


TARIFF NO.: 7014.00.20

Mr. Lawrence M. Friedman
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
303 East Wacker Street, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601

RE: Reconsideration of HQ 965467; Monitor filters

Dear Mr. Friedman:

This is in response to your letter dated April 4, 2003, requesting reconsideration of HQ 965467, which was issued to you on behalf of your client, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company (“3M”), on September 17, 2002, and which classified monitor filters in subheading 7014.00.20, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as optical elements of glass not optically worked. We have taken into consideration additional points raised in the teleconference conducted with you on September 9, 2003. We have reviewed HQ 965467 and found the ruling to be correct.


You stated in your submission that the monitor filters at issue are fully and accurately described in HQ 965467, which we have excerpted below. You additionally state that the primary function of the filters is to provide a clearer image of the items displayed. The secondary function is privacy in viewing the display. The filters are designed to fit standard sizes of office display monitors.

HQ 965467 provided the following facts:

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.


1. Whether the non-optically worked monitor filters are “recognizable finished articles” and thus excluded from classification as other optical elements of heading 7014, HTSUS.

2. Whether monitor filters are accessories to output units of automatic data processing machines and classified in heading 8473, 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.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

7014 Signaling glassware and optical elements of glass (other than those of heading 7015), not optically worked:

Optical elements:

7014.00.20 Other

8473 Part and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of headings 8469 to 8472:

8473.30 Parts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471:

Not incorporating a cathode ray tube:

8473.30.50 Other

There are two issues raised in the request for reconsideration of HQ 965467. The first issue involves whether the monitor filters are “recognizable finished articles” as described in the ENs to heading 7014 and thereby excluded from classification in the heading. The second issue is whether the monitor filters are accessories to the machines of heading 8471 and classified accordingly. Consideration of heading 9002, HTSUS, is not at issue, as your client concurs with Customs determination in HQ 965467 that the provision is inapplicable because the glass is not optically worked.

Originally, there was no question that the monitor filters were “optical elements,” but 3M claimed that they were excluded from heading 7014, HTSUS. However, in the teleconference, you argued that a complete article could not be an optical element. Rather, you proposed that optical elements are irreducible components of a complete article, not the complete article.

EN 70.14 describes optical elements of glass as follows:

(B) Optical elements of glass (colourless or coloured). The heading includes elements which are manufactured in such a way that they produce some required optical effect without being optically worked. These articles include mainly lenses and similar articles for automobile headlamps, parking lights, direction indication lights.

The ENs further state that:

The articles remain here even if framed, set in a mounting or backed with a reflecting surface, but the recogni[z]able 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 term “optical element” is not specifically defined in the HTSUS. Tariff terms are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meaning. See Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. See C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982). In HQ 960896, dated November 25, 1998, Customs consulted such sources in determining the classification of color filters. The ruling concluded that optical elements produce an optical effect. See also HQ 951709, dated October 5, 1992; HQ 959905, dated January 22, 1999; and HQ 962925, dated April 4, 2000. In addition, we find the ENs to headings 9001 and 9002, HTSUS, are instructive as to what encompasses the term because the primary distinction between optical elements of heading 7014, HTSUS, and optical elements of Chapter 90, HTSUS, is that optical elements of Chapter 90 are optically worked. See HQ 965192, dated September 9, 2002. Thus, the ENs for chapters 70 and 90, read in pari materia, suggest that optical elements include various types of prisms, lenses, mirrors and filters. See e.g., HQ 966207, dated August 26, 2003 (stating prisms and lenses are examples of optical elements); HQ 966133, March 11, 2003 (stating glass filters are optical elements); HQ 960896 (holding color filters to be classified in heading 7014, HTSUS); see also Heading 9002, HTSUS. Accordingly, filters are optical elements.

We now must address whether the instant filters are classified as optical elements. In HQ 965467, we stated that “[a]rticles 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 [articles].’” In your written submission, you offered a different interpretation, contending that the term “recognizable finished articles” means “complete” or “ready for use.” As the monitor filters are complete articles, they are excluded from heading 7014, HTSUS according to your understanding.

Upon further consideration of the ENs, we have determined that the interpretation of that phrase is actually derived from the entirety of the sentence in which it is contained, rather than on the term “finished.” EN 70.14(B) describes optical elements of glass as “lenses and similar articles for automobile headlamps.” Emphasis added. However, complete automobile headlamps are classified in heading 8512, HTSUS, as stated in the exclusionary language of the EN. Complete headlamps are comprised of more than a lens. Therefore, it is evident that the lens portion of an automobile headlamp is not classified as a part of a headlamp, but as an optical element of heading 7014, HTSUS. Thus, it logically follows that the complete headlamp of heading 8512, HTSUS, is “the recognizable finished article,” (emphasis added) of which the lens is a part. Similarly, the signaling glassware provided for in heading 7014, HTSUS, is also a part of the signs of base metal of heading 8310, HTSUS. Accordingly, “the recognizable finished article” referred to in EN 70.14 is the article of which an optical element is a part, when imported as that complete article.

In this case, a monitor filter is the complete article. However, heading 7014, HTSUS, does not exclude all complete articles. The EN states that “[a]rticles remain here even if framed, set in a mounting or backed with a reflecting surface.” Thus, it excludes only those complete articles in which the optical element is a part. Here, the optical element is framed and set in a mounting. It is not a part of the monitor filter, but the entire article. Hence, it is not excluded from classification in heading 7014, HTSUS, as “the recognizable finished article.” Accordingly, the monitor filter is described in heading 7014, HTSUS.

You argued in the teleconference that articles of heading 7014, HTSUS, can only be parts of the articles for which the optical element is intended, and not a complete article in and of itself. Thus, because you claim that the instant monitor filters do not become a part of personal computer monitors, that is, the mounting in which the optical element is set does not have holes for screws or bolts, they are outside the scope of the heading. You cited HQ 968096, supra, HQ 962925, supra, HQ 959905, supra, and HQ 957373, dated May 19, 1995, in support of this proposition, stating that none of the articles classified in the these rulings are finished, complete articles.

We disagree. As discussed above, the EN states that an optical element that is framed or set in a mounting is included in the heading. For Customs to make a distinction between different types of mountings or to state that a particular mounting changes the nature of an article would unnecessarily narrow the scope of heading 7014, HTSUS, whose ENs are very clear on the matter of mountings. The scope of the provision covers complete articles such as the one at issue. Moreover, the articles classified in the rulings cited by you are complete articles, whether or not they attach permanently to another article or simply “sit” on another article, as with the instant filters. Therefore, though you are correct that several of the articles in the rulings to which you referred in the teleconference may be parts of other articles, they are, in and of themselves complete articles. Accordingly, those rulings are consistent with the determination made here.

Your next contention is that the monitor filters are classified in heading 8473, HTSUS, as an accessory to a machine of heading 8471, HTSUS, specifically an output unit (i.e., display monitor) of an automatic data processing (ADP) machine. EN 84.73 describes “accessories” 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 HQ 965467, we stated that the monitor filter was not an accessory, and thus not classified in heading 8473, HTSUS.

An "accessory" must bear a direct relationship to the primary article that it accessorizes. See Rollerblade, Inc. v. United States, 282 F.3d 1349, 1352 (CAFC 2002), aff’g 116 F. Supp. 2d 1247 (CIT 2000). In Rollerblade, the court determined that protective gear used for the activity of inline roller-skating was not an accessory to the roller skates. Relying on the common meaning of "accessory," the court reasoned that, unlike an article that would be classified as a roller skate part or accessory, the protective gear did not directly act on the roller skates and did not directly affect the skates' operation. Rather, it acted on the person participating in the activity of roller-skating.

You claim the monitor filters are not analogous to the protective gear in Rollerblade because the filters are attached to the ADP monitor and act on it. You assert that the monitor filters are accessories by virtue of the EN to heading 8473, HTSUS, which provides, in relevant part, as follows:

The accessories covered by this heading are 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 addition to being designed for use solely with ADP monitors, you state that the filters perform the particular service of improved image quality relative to the main function of an ADP monitor, which is display of data, and that the filters provide a barrier to light sources that distort the data output. You contend that the filters increase the monitor’s range of operations by reducing glare from ambient fluorescent office light which increases the effectiveness of the monitor by providing a clearer image, and, in some models, by providing privacy to the user by limiting the viewing of the image. Some models also block electro-magnetic field radiation. Finally, you state that the filters are manufactured to attach to standard sizes of ADP monitors and have no other commercially practical function.

We agree with you that the facts of Rollerblade are not analogous to the matter at hand. The monitor filters act directly on the ADP monitors and effect the output of the monitor by blocking certain light and electro-magnetic field radiation coming from the monitor. That is, as per the EN, the filters perform a particular service relative to the main function of the machine. While the filters also assist the user by, for example, blocking radiation, the additional functions of the item that benefit the user do not undercut the fact that the filters satisfy the common meaning of "accessory" as set forth in Rollerblade, 116 F. Supp. 2d 1247, and the terms of the relevant subheading. Therefore, the monitor filters are described as accessories in heading 8473, HTSUS.

As the filters are covered by two headings, they are not classifiable according to GRI 1. GRI 2 is not relevant because the filters are finished goods and are not mixtures. GRI 3(a) states, in relevant part, that when goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, as the instant goods are, the heading which provides the most specific provision shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c) provides that, “in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requiresa provision for parts of an article covers products solely or principally used as a part of such articles but a provision for ‘parts’ or ‘parts and accessories’ shall not prevail over a specific provision for such part or accessory.”

Heading 7014, HTSUS, specifically provides for the monitor filters because they are optical elements not optically worked, that are framed and set in a mounting. Pursuant to GRI 3(a), heading 7014, HTSUS, prevails over heading 8473, HTSUS, because it provides a more specific description of the goods. Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c) provides additional support for classification in heading 7014, HTSUS. Therefore, we find that the monitor filters are classified in heading 7014, HTSUS. Accordingly, the holding in HQ 965467 is correct.


The subject float glass monitor filters are classified 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[.]”


Michael T. Schmitz
Assistant Commissioner,

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