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HQ 967631

December 14, 2005

CLA-2 RR: CTF: TCM 967631 DBS


TARIFF NO.: 8517.90.4400

Mr. Richard Zupito
Montgomery International, Inc.
341 Erickson Ave.
Essington, PA 19029

RE: Revocation of NY K87985; Classification of line cards for network switches

Dear Mr. Zupito:

On August 5, 2004, the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, issued to you on behalf of Data Q Internet Equipment Co (“Data Q”), New York Ruling Letter (NY) K87985, classifying what was understood at the time to be a Cisco Ethernet circuit card in subheading 8471.80.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as a unit of an automatic data processing (ADP) machine. According to new information submitted to this office by counsel for Cisco Systems, Inc. (“Cisco”) and confirmed by Data Q, the good subject to the ruling was identified by an incorrect part number and the description is that of an entirely different card. This ruling constitutes a revocation of NY K87985 and a binding ruling on the classification for the line card properly identified and described below.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed revocation of the above-identified ruling was published on October 26, 2005, in the CUSTOMS BULLETIN, Volume 39, Number 44. No comments were received in response to the notice.


The merchandise in NY K87985 was described in relevant part as follows:

WS-X4148RJ45 Ethernet Card. The WS-X4148RJ45 is an Ethernet circuit card for use in the Cisco 4000 series switch family. It is designed to work only when inserted into an expansion slot within the Cisco 4000 series switches. The Cisco 4000 series switches are used in Local Area Network (LAN) and or in conjunction with a telecommunications network.

CBP was informed by counsel for Cisco that part number WS-X4148RJ45 does not exist; the actual part number is WS-X4148RJ45V (emphasis added). Further, the description matches not the WS-X4148RJ45V, but a different Cisco line card: a simple Ethernet card for LANs. Following this discovery, Data Q confirmed that the WS-X4148RJ45V line card is the merchandise for which the original ruling was requested, and not the good described above (and incorrectly identified). We note that the confusion likely arose from the similarity of several part numbers and the variety of line cards described in the product literature website which accompanied the ruling request.

The WS-X4148RJ45V card is a 48-port switching line card (printed circuit assembly) with inline power for Cisco’s Catalyst 4000 Series Switches for Internet Protocol (IP) telephony. The switches are used to create Virtual LANs between, e.g., corporate headquarters and branch offices in wide area networks. IP Telephony allows voice, data and video to be transmitted across a data network. Inline power, or “Power Over Ethernet” as described by Cisco is 48-volt DC power provided over standard Category 5 unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable up to 100 meters. The instant line card detects IP telephones and supplies power to them via the switch, in lieu of an electrical outlet. It permits the communication of telephone, fax and computers over a wide area. The card also provides an auxiliary VLAN feature which allows for configuration and network management of the VLANs while maintaining separate logical topologies for voice and data terminals. The card supports Cisco’s Fast EtherCannel technology and the Link Aggregation standard used by Cisco’s systems.


Whether a line card for IP telephony is classified under heading 8517, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (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. The 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. CBP believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS headings at issue are, in part, as follows:

8471 Automatic data processing machines and units thereof.

8517 Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, including line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof:

To be classified in heading 8471, as an ADP unit, the merchandise must meet all three requirements of Note 5(B) to Chapter 84, HTSUS, which provides that:

Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separate units. Subject to paragraph (E) 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; (b) It is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and (c) It is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system.

Often, networked equipment can meet the requirements of Legal Note 5(B)(b) and 5(B)(c) to chapter 84, for the following reasons: they are connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and, they are able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system. Classification determinations often turn on whether networked equipment meet the terms of Legal Note 5(B)(a) to chapter 84, HTSUS. That is, CBP must determine whether the networked equipment is of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system. Such a determination is consistent with CBP rulings on various networking equipment, including HQ 965047, dated June 19, 2002; HQ 963250, dated July 23, 2001; and HQ 963234 July 23, 2001.

In resolving this issue, importers must provide evidence of sole or principal use. An unsupported claim that these goods are solely or principally used in an ADP system is not evidence. The courts have provided the following factors to apply, which are indicative but not conclusive, when determining the principal use of merchandise: general physical characteristics; expectation of the ultimate purchaser; channels of trade; environment of sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display); use in the same manner as merchandise which defines the class; economic practicality of so using the import; and recognition in the trade of this use. See Lenox Collections v. United States, 19 Ct. Int’l Trade 345, 347 (1995); Kraft, Inc. v. United States, 16 Ct. Int’l Trade 483 (1992); G. Heileman Brewing Co. v. United States, 14 CIT 614 (1990). See also United States v. Carborundum Company, 63 CCPA 98, C.A.D. 1172, 536 F.2d 373 (1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 979 (1976).

Information obtained from Cisco and confirmed by you, the importer, indicates that this line card is used exclusively in Cisco Catalyst 4000 Series Switches for IP telephony, which transmits voice, video and data over multi-mode Fast Etherchannel Links. The expectation of the ultimate purchasers, which are large enterprises including Internet Service Providers, is to transmit voice, video and data services over public or private lines, IP phone auto-detection, in-line power and configuration of multiple Virtual LANs (VLANs) over wide areas. The channels of trade and environment of sale for this line card are large enterprises for communication networks between corporate headquarters and branch locations. Because of its sole use in switches for IP telephony, their use is consistent with other apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, not simple Ethernet cards for use in an ADP system. We conclude the instant line card is not of a kind solely or principally used in an ADP system. As it does not satisfy Note 5(B)(a), Ch. 84, it cannot be classified in heading 8471, HTSUS.

In light of the card’s use in line telephony and telegraphy, we turn to heading 8517, HTSUS. Explanatory Note (III)(A) to heading 8517 describes the automatic telephonic or telegraphic switching apparatus in relevant part as follows:

These are of many types. The key feature of a switching system is the ability to provide, in response to coded signals, an automatic connection between users. Automatic switchboards and exchanges may operate by means of circuit switching, message switching or packet switching which utilize microprocessors to connect users by electronic means. Many automatic switchboards and exchanges incorporate analogue to digital converters, digital to analogue converters, data compression/decompression devices (codecs), modems, multiplexors, automatic data processing machines and other devices that permit the simultaneous transmission of both analogue and digital signals over the network, which enables the integrated transmission of speech, other sounds, characters, graphics, images or other data.

As demonstrated by the facts above, the switches that the WS-X4148RJ45V card supports provide an automatic connection between users (e.g., of the VLANs) for the transmission of signals over a network, which enables the integrated transmission of speech, other sounds, characters, graphics, images or other data (i.e., IP telephony). Thus, they are included in heading 8517, HTSUS, as electrical apparatus for line telephony and line telegraphy. The line card at issue is a printed circuit assembly used exclusively with these switches, detecting and powering IP telephones through the switch.

It is a well-established rule that a ‘part’ of an article is an integral, constituent, or component part, without which the article to which it is to be joined, could not function as such article.” United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc., 21 CCPA 322, 324, T.D. 46,851 (1933) (emphasis in original), cert denied, 292 U.S. 640 (1934). In determining whether an item is a part of an article, the Court looks to the “nature, function, and purpose of an item in relation to the article to which it is attached or designed to serve ” Ideal Toy Corp. v. United States, 58 CCPA 9, 13, C.A.D. 996, 433 F. 2d 801, 803 (1979). However, a device may be considered a part of an article even though the device is not necessary to the operation of the article, provided that once the device is installed the article cannot function properly without it. United States v. Antonio Pompeo, 43 C.C.P.A. 9, C.A.D. 602 ((Cust. & Pat. App., 1955). To meet this requirement, the device must be dedicated for use upon the article. See Beacon Cycle Supply Co., Inc. v. United States, 81 Cust. Ct. 46, 50-51 C.D. 4764 (1978).

Further, EN 85.17 states that subject to the general provisions regarding the classification of parts (see the General Explanatory Note to Section XVI), parts of the apparatus of this heading are also classified here. Section XVI, Note 2 (b) provides that parts that are not themselves goods of another heading and are suitable for use solely or principally with a particular machine of Chapters 84 or 85 are to be classified with those machines. Based upon our review of the product literature, the line card, being designed for inline power and exclusively used with the particular series of switches for a inline power multi-service communications infrastructure, is classifiable as a part of the apparatus of heading 8517, HTSUS. As the switch to which this is a part transmits voice and data, it would be classified as telegraphic apparatus. Thus, the line card is classified as a printed circuit assembly for telegraphic apparatus.


The Cisco WS-X4148RJ45V is classified in heading 8517, HTSUS. It is specifically provided for in subheading 8517.90.4400, HTSUSA, as “Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, including line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof: Parts: Other: Printed circuit assemblies: For telegraphic apparatus.” The 2005 column one rate of duty is free.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov. EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:

NY K87985, dated August 5, 2004, is hereby REVOKED. In accordance with 19 U.S.C 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division

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