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NY J80105

January 21, 2003

MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:221 J80105


Ms. Rosalinda Rivera
Loera Customs Brokerage, Inc.
5845 East 14th Street
Brownsville, TX 78521


Dear Ms. Rivera:

This is in response to your letter dated December 20, 2002, on behalf of Cardinal Brands, Inc., requesting a ruling on whether the proposed country of origin marking on imported binders is acceptable. Two marked samples were submitted with your letter for review.

The samples are identified as a Quill Brand 1 inch round ring poly binder and a Cardinal Brand 5/8 inch round ring poly binder. The inside right side of each binder is marked with the brand name (Quill or Cardinal) and the legend “Made in Mexico.” The country of origin marking measures ¼ inch in height on both binders and 1 ¾ inches in width on the Cardinal brand binder and 2 inches in width on the Quill brand binder. The marking will be “blind” marking, i.e., in embossed letters but not in contrasting color. The Quill binders are embossed with additional information in smaller letters identifying model numbers, sheet sizes and available colors. The samples will be retained for reference purposes.

The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. §1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article.

With regard to the permanency of a marking, section 134.41(a), Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. §134.41(a)), provides that as a general rule marking requirements are best met by marking worked into the article at the time of manufacture. For example, it is suggested that the country of origin on metal articles be die sunk, molded in, or etched. However, section 134.44, Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. §134.44), generally provides that any marking that is sufficiently permanent so that it will remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser unless deliberately removed is acceptable.

As provided in section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. §134.41(b)), the country of origin marking is considered conspicuous if the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. is able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. In HQ 733940, of October 24, 1991, Customs Headquarters described certain factors that need to be 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 that should be considered are the size of the marking, the location of the marking, whether the marking stands out, and the legibility of the marking. The size of the marking should be large enough so that the ultimate purchaser can easily see the marking without strain. The location of the marking should be in a place where the ultimate purchaser could expect to find the marking or where he/she could easily notice it from a casual 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.

No single factor should be considered conclusive by itself in determining whether a marking meets the conspicuous requirement of 19 C.F.R. §134.41 and 19 U.S.C. §1304. Instead, it is the combination of these factors that determines whether the marking is acceptable. In some cases, a marking may be unacceptable even when it is in a large size because the letters are too hard to read or it is in a location where it would not be easily noticed. In other 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.

In applying these factors to the instant binders, we find that, while the marking is not in a contrasting color, the size of the marking, ¼ inch high, and 1 ¾ to 2 inches in width, is large enough so that it is apparent upon a casual examination of the binders. Please note that this office would not consider the location to be conspicuous if the binders are imported with paper or other inserts so that the marking is not immediately apparent upon opening the binder. Though the embossing on the Quill brand binder is not as deep as the embossing on the Cardinal brand binder, it is nevertheless conspicuous because the embossing of all of the additional information on the Quill brand binder draws one’s attention to the location of the marking. However, we suggest that all of the binders be embossed using the same depth of impression as currently used on the Cardinal brand binder.

We also caution that the present level of conspicuousness is at a minimal level. If embossing on colors other than the maroon colored binders submitted with your request does not provide a contrast at least as great as on the instant samples, then the marking may not be acceptable. Also, if the embossing does not include the brand name, then the size of the marking alone may not be sufficient to draw the attention of the ultimate purchaser to the location where the country of origin is indicated.

The proposed marking of the imported binders, in the size lettering as the submitted sample and when the binders are imported empty, is conspicuous, legible and permanent in satisfaction of the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134 and is an acceptable country of origin marking for the imported binders.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 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 Joan Mazzola at 646-733-3023.


Robert B. Swierupski

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