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HQ H017918

December 28, 2007



TARIFF NO.: 8466.10.0175

Ms. Jessica DePinto
Hodes Keating & Pilon
134 North LaSalle Street, Suite 1300
Chicago, Illinois 60602-1007

RE: Tariff classification of an extendable tree pruner

Dear Ms. DePinto:

On September 27, 2007, this office received your correspondence on behalf of your client, the Gerber Legendary Blades Division of Fiskars Brands, Inc. (Gerber), dated September 4, 2007, requesting a binding ruling on the tariff classification of the Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). In preparing this ruling, we also considered your written supplement, dated October 17, 2007, as well as the substance of our telephone conference on December 20, 2007, along with your follow-up submission, dated December 28, 2007.


The Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner is designed to cut tree branches and limbs. It consists of three components: a pruner/clipper head controlled by a double pulley system operated by the user below; a saw head; and an aluminum telescoping pole. The telescoping pole extends from approximately two feet up to a length of approximately five feet, allowing the user to reach overhead limps and foliage. It has a plastic handle on one end and is threaded at the other end to allow the user to attach either the pruner/clipper head or the saw head, which are interchangeable. The thickness of the foliage determines whether the pruner/clipper head or the saw head is to be used - the pruner/clipper head clears foliage less than one inch in diameter while the saw head is to be used for thicker foliage. These three main components are packaged together for retail sale along with a fitted nylon case.


What is the proper classification under the HTSUS for the subject merchandise?


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 2 through 6 may then be applied in order.

Because of the merchandise's status as a composite good, GRI 3 is implicated. GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be as follows: (b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration in this case are as follows:

7616 Other articles of aluminum:

7616.99 Other:

7616.99.50 Other,

7616.99.5090 Other

8201 Handtools of the following kinds and base metal parts thereof: spades, shovels, mattocks, picks, hoes, forks and rakes; axes, bill hooks and similar hewing tools; secateurs and pruners of any kind; scythes, sickles, hay knives, hedge shears, timber wedges and other tools of a kind used in agriculture, horticulture or forestry:

8201.90 Other handtools of a kind used in agriculture, horticulture or forestry, and parts thereof:

8201.90.6000 Other

8202 Handsaws, and metal parts thereof; blades for saws of all kinds (including slitting, slotting or toothless saw blades), and base metal parts thereof:

8202.10.0000 Handsaws, and parts (except blades) thereof

8466 Parts and accessories suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of headings 8456 to 8465, including work or tool holders, self-opening dieheads, dividing heads and other special attachments for machine tools; tool holders for any type of tool for working in the hand:

8466.10.01 Tool holders and self-opening dieheads:

8466.10.0175 Other

The above referenced components, if imported separately, would fall within each of their respective HTSUS headings (heading 8466 or 7616 for the telescoping pole; heading 8201 for the pruner/clipper head; and heading 8202 for the saw head), making the Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner a composite good. It is also undisputed that the fitted nylon case shall be classified according to the same heading as the subject merchandise. See GRI 5(a)1.

Gerber advances the argument that heading 8201, HTSUS is the proper classification for the subject merchandise on the basis that GRI 3(b) requires that composite goods be classified as if they consisted of the component that gives them their essential character. In this case, Gerber claims that the pruner/clipper head and the saw head should be combined for classification purposes to form a "head assembly." Combining the two cutting components, as the argument goes, would result in a head assembly component that imparts the subject merchandise's essential character, requiring classification within heading 8201, HTSUS.

However, it is clear that that pruner/clipper head and the saw head are distinctive components classifiable in different HTSUS headings, the pruner/clipper in heading 8201, and the saw head in heading 8202. The Tele-cutter Extendable Pruner is engineered in such a way that it is not possible for both of the cutting components to be attached to the telescoping pole at once. Also, their usage differs depending on the thickness of the foliage to be cleared. Consequently, combining the two components under the label of "heading assembly" to form one component for classification purposes would be inappropriate. As such, CBP will not combine the value of the two components in determining which component imparts the subject merchandise's essential character.

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, may 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 (Aug. 23, 1989). In its discussion concerning "essential character," the EN to GRI 3(b) states that:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

In this particular case, the relative value of the telescoping pole and the pruner/clipper head are substantially similar, while the saw head costs less. Consequently, the role of the components is the most significant factor in determining which component imparts the merchandise with its "essential character." In support of its position that either the pruner/clipper head or the saw head components impart the "essential character" of the merchandise, Gerber points to New York Letter Ruling (NY) N008137, dated March 21, 2007. In this ruling, a "Telescoping Tree Pruner/Saw" was classified in subheading 8201.90.6000.

However, it is important to note that the merchandise discussed in NY N008137 differed from the subject Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner in two key ways. First, the merchandise from NY N008137 was classified in heading 8201, as a pruner, because the saw blade needed to be screwed onto the pruner/clipper head in order to be used. Thus, the pruner/clipper aspect of that merchandise clearly imparted the essential character. As already mentioned, the pruner/clipper head and the saw head of the subject Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner are separate, interchangeable components. Second, the imported merchandise in NY N008137 did not include the telescoping pole component, which was to be packaged after importation. Consequently, it was not even considered during the essential character analysis. In this case, the telescoping pole is packaged with the other two components at the time of importation. Thus, NY N008137 does not control the outcome of this case.

Gerber argues that because the pruner/clipper head or the saw head constitute "working parts," they impart the merchandise's essential character. As support, Gerber cites Headquarters Letter Ruling (HQ) 966658, dated December 15, 2003 regarding classification of a standard paper crimper. HQ 966658 follows CBP's treatment of composite goods composed of a plastic body and metal working parts. In such cases, CBP generally will determine that the metal working parts impart the essential character of the subject goods as opposed to the plastic body.

The subject merchandise is distinguishable from the merchandise in HQ 966658 because it is not a good consisting of a plastic body with metal working parts. Most importantly, among the three main components, the telescoping pole is the only one that the user employs every time he or she attempts to clear foliage, as the pruner/clipper head and the saw head are interchangeable. Furthermore, while the purpose of the product might be to trim relatively small areas of foliage, its key characteristic is the product's ability to reach foliage that the user would not be able to trim with traditional pruners. It is clear that without the telescoping pole, the product would not be effective in achieving its purpose of clearing foliage located above the user. See Better Home Plastics Corp. v. United States, 119 F.3d 969 (Fed. Cir. 1997) (holding that the plastic liner, and not the textile curtain, imparted the essential character of the shower curtain because the plastic liner was more essential to the function of the subject good). As such, we find that the telescoping pole imparts the merchandise's essential character.

Gerber argues that in the event that we find the telescoping pole to impart the essential character of the Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner, it should be classified in heading 7616, HTSUS, as an article of aluminum. For support, Gerber points to Port Decision Letter Ruling (PD) F81473, dated January 31, 2000. PD F81473 classified an aluminum extension handle in heading 7616, HTSUS, as an article of aluminum. Like the telescoping handle in this case, the aluminum extension handle was composed of three sections, which telescope out to a length of approximately eight feet, with a plastic handle on one end and a male thread on the other designed for usage with various paint roller frames or cleaning apparatus. The description of the merchandise in PD F81473 is similar to the telescoping pole discussed here. However, the extension pole in PD F81473 was designed to facilitate the use of various paint roller frames or cleaning apparatuses. It is noteworthy that CBP does not treat items such as cleaning apparatuses and paint roller frames are tools. See HQ 966118, dated September 11, 2003 and NY N006173, dated February 12, 2007.

In this case, on the other hand, the pruner/clipper head and the saw head are classifiable as tools, and it is evident that the telescoping pole is designed and used to facilitate the use of both components interchangeably, making the telescoping pole a tool holder classifiable in heading 8466, HTSUS. The EN to heading 8466, HTSUS, supports this conclusion. In articulating the definition of tool holders for any type of tool for working in the hand, EN 84.66(c) states, in pertinent part:

The very wide range of parts and accessories classified here includes:

(1) Tool holders which hold, guide or operate the working tool and which permit the interchange of such tool-pieces. They are of very varied types... (emphasis in original).

The telescoping pole certainly permits the interchange of the saw head and pruner/clipper head components. It also holds, guides, and assists in the operation of these components when the user is clearing foliage.

In this regard, the telescoping pole component of the Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner is similar to the non-ratcheting drive handle, which imparted the essential character of the SKU 45785 tool set discussed in HQ 967400, dated March 29, 2006. In HQ 967400, the drive handle was accompanied by various screwdriver bits and ratchet bits. While the interchangeable pieces of the tool set were certainly essential to the tool's operation, they would not be effective without the drive handle. Similarly, the telescoping pole enables the Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner to function as intended.

Alternatively, Gerber argues that, pursuant to GRI 3(c), the Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner is classifiable under heading 8202, HTSUS, as a saw. GRI 3(c) states: "When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration." Even if we were to accept Gerber's position that GRI 3(c) controls the disposition of this case, the subject merchandise would still be classifiable in heading 8466, HTSUS, as we have previously found that the telescoping pole is a tool holder and not an article of aluminum classifiable in heading 7616, HTSUS.

The subject merchandise is classified according to the component that imparts its essential character. In this case, the telescoping pole, classifiable in heading 8466, HTSUS, as a tool holder, imparts the subject merchandise's essential character.


By application of GRI 3(b), the Tele-Cutter Extendable Pruner is classified under heading 8466, HTSUS, and specifically provided for in subheading 8466.10.0175, HTSUSA which provides for: "Parts and accessories...; tool holders for any type of tool for working in the hand: Tool holders...: Other." The column one, general rate of duty is 3.9 percent ad valorem.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and 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.


Gail A. Hamill, Chief
Tariff Classification and Marking Branch

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