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NY I89012

December 31, 2002

CLA-2-90:RR:NC:N1:105 I89012


TARIFF NO.: 9017.80.0000, 9105.11.80

Mr. Marvin Sandler
Independent Living Aids, Inc.
200 Robbins Lane
Jericho, New York 11753-2341

RE: The tariff classification of a ProTape 16’ Talking Tape Measure and a Talking Calendar Alarm clock from Great Britain

Dear Mr. Sandler:

In your letter dated December 3, 2002, you requested a tariff classification ruling.

Regarding the primary classification of the sample clock, marked Cobolt Speechmaster, the submitted item model CSL31112 is a combination talking alarm clock and calendar. The unit measures approximately 5 ¾ inches in length by 3 inches in width and is housed in a plastic case. The item is fitted with a removable front cover that must be unclipped in order to expose the setting buttons. There are four buttons on the front face in two rows. The top left button reports the date and the top right button reports the time. The lower left “Set Up” button is used to set any of the clock functions and the lower right “Status” button is used to change the setting. In normal operating mode the lower right button will advise the user whether the alarm or hourly report have been selected. The clock is powered by either an optional adapter or a 9V battery housed in a compartment on the back of the housing. The essential character of this composite article is derived from the clock.

The applicable primary subheading for the Talking Calendar Alarm Clock will be 9105.11.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for other clocks; alarm clocks; electrically operated; other. The rate of duty will be 30 cents each plus 6.9 percent ad valorem on the case plus 5.3 percent ad valorem on the battery.

Regarding the primary classification of the sample retracting tape measure, marked “ProTape 16’ – Home Contractor,” and, in smaller print, “Talking Tape Measure – Cobolt Speechmaster,” spring rules are cited in Harmonized System Explanatory Note D-5 to Heading 9017.

The applicable primary subheading for the tape measure will be 9017.80.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for “other” instruments for measuring length, for use in the hand. The rate of duty will be 5.3 percent ad valorem.

You propose a secondary classification for both as articles for the blind in HTS 9817.00.94, which provides for Braille tablets, cubarithms, and special apparatus, machines, presses, and types for the use or benefit exclusively for the blind. We note that Cobolt Systems internet web site is primarily pointed towards assistive living items, but that is not sufficient per se. Consistent with Headquarters Ruling Letter 556449 SER, 5-5-92, a major factor is the item’s “probability of general public use.” We note that the instructions for neither are in Braille, but are in unusually large print, the smallest letters being over 1/8 inch in height.

Regarding the tape measure, you state: “Although the talking tape measure has visual markings, it also includes verbal conversions that will speak feet and inches, inches, millimeters, centimeters and meters, and will audibly compensate for the measurements of the case. It also has an audible memory function in case the user is measuring something (such as the perimeter of a room) that is longer than the 16-foot length of the tape measure.”

We note that none of the markings on its buttons are in Braille, but in standard size print, as are the markings on the tape itself. The memory feature and the fact that the user can have the measurement announced with the length of the case added are both very useful to the sighted as well as the blind when making very long or flush measurements. Per the current Speak To Me on –line Catalog, an apparently identical talking tape measure is described: “This easy to use and handy to carry talking tape measure will help make measuring those difficult to reach corners and heights a snap.” Those who are not legally blind often cannot read the measurement from a tape due to shadows, an awkward angle, etc. The same features that make this item usable by the legally blind are also quite useful to others. However, the same benefits are almost all supplied by having the same electronics and using a large digital printout. In fact, we see that other ProTape tape measures are widely available at about $30 retail on the internet. They appear to be identical except that they have a large digital read-out instead of a speaking feature. The speaking feature increases the device’s thickness by about 50 % and increases the suggested retail price by about 200 % even though there must be some savings in deleting the digital display. Although your import has several advantages over the standard, manual tape measure which you believe “a sighted person can buy at Home Depot for $12.95 or less,” it seems quite unlikely that a sighted person would chose it over the smaller, lighter, and still relatively cheaper ProTape with a digital read-out, especially since the speaking feature is not an additional feature, but a replacement for the digital read-out. It appears that your import is made by taking the standard ProTape digital and adapting it by adding the speaking function and deleting the digital read-out.

Regarding the clock, you acknowledge that talking clocks in general can be used by sighted people. We note that they are quite useful, for example, when awakened in a darkened room or when without eyeglasses at hand. The optional auditory announcement of the hour is an improvement upon such devices as chiming clocks, which have been popular with the sighted for centuries. However, we agree that the absence of any visual time display is quite unusual, especially for an item retailing at about $75, and would greatly reduce the likelihood of purchase by the sighted. The clock does not have any markings in Braille, but, with the cover in place, there are no visible markings either, just two openings (for the time and for the date buttons.)

A secondary classification will apply for both items in HTS 9817.00.94, as specially designed or adapted for the use or benefit of the permanently or chronically physically or mentally handicapped, free of duty and user fees (if any), if all applicable entry requirements are met including the filing with the Customs port of entry of the U.S. Department of Commerce form ITA-362P.

The samples are being returned to you in a separate mailing.

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 ruling, contact National Import Specialist J. Sheridan at 646-733-3012.


Robert B. Swierupski

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