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HQ H020454

February 14, 2008



TARIFF NO.: 8513.10.2000

Mr. Kyu Hur
Zen Design Group, LTD.
2850 Coolidge Highway
Berkley, Michigan 48072

RE: Tariff classification of keychain and carabiner novelty lights

Dear Mr. Hur:

On November 27, 2007, this office received your correspondence, dated November 14, 2007, requesting a binding ruling on the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of three “Zoolight” products imported by Zen Design Group, LTD. (Zen). Our ruling follows.


At issue are three styles of novelty toy-like products. They are described as the “Zoolight Keychain”, represented by sample Model Number FG1 (referred to herein as the “Frog Zoolight”); the “Zoolight Keychain with Sound”, represented by sample Model Number ZL-DS1 (referred to herein as the “Dinosaur Zoolight”); and the “Zoolight Carabiner”, represented by sample Model Number ZCWS (referred to herein as the “Orca Zoolight”).

The Frog Zoolight consists of a plastic device resembling a stylized frog, measuring approximately 2 inches long by 1.5 inches high by 1.75 inches wide (at its widest points). The Dinosaur Zoolight consists of a plastic device resembling a stylized dinosaur that measures approximately 1.5 inches high by 2.25 inches long by 1.75 inches wide (at its widest points). Both the Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights feature a u-shaped ratchet lever located on the back of the plastic figure’s body, through which a metal keychain is permanently affixed. The keychain measures approximately two inches in length with a metal c-shaped hook at the end, closed by a spring-loaded clasp. The Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights also operate in the same fashion. When the ratchet lever positioned on the figure’s back is depressed, the creature’s mouth opens, and a red light emitting diode (LED) illuminates. The Frog Zoolight also emits a frog-like sound clicking that takes place when the lever that opens the frog’s mouth is depressed. The Dinosaur Zoolight plays roaring sound effect for up to four seconds. The user must continually hold down the lever in order to maintain the beam of light. The lights of the Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights (and the sound function of the Dinosaur Zoolight) are powered by three replaceable button cell batteries.

The Orca Zoolight consists of a plastic device resembling a stylized orca, measuring approximately 4 inches long by 1.5 inches wide by 1.5 inches high. The tail of the orca loops around so that tail fins are connected to the whale’s back. The loop serves as a carabiner-like clip that opens by pushing a portion of tail towards the inside of the loop. The spring loaded hinge keeps the loop closed when the device is being used otherwise. The dorsal fin serves as a lever which, when depressed, causes the whale’s mouth to open and red LED to illuminate along with the orca to emit characteristic noises for approximately two seconds. The sound and light functions of the Orca Zoolight are powered by three replaceable button cell batteries. Like the Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights, the user must continually hold down the lever in order to maintain the beam of light.

Zen does not propose a specific HTSUS subheading for the subject merchandise, but does state that the merchandise was designed “with toy classification in mind.”


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

7326 Other articles of iron or steel:

7326.20.00 Articles of iron or steel wire,

7326.20.0070 Other

8513 Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy (for example, dry batteries, storage batteries, magnetos), other than lighting equipment of heading 8512; parts thereof:

8513.10 Lamps:

8513.10.2000 Flashlights

9503.00.00 Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls’ carriages; dolls, other toys; reduced scale (“scale”) models and similar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds; parts and accessories thereof,

9503.00.0080 Other

Initially, Note 1(l) to Section XV, HTSUS, and Note 1(p) to Section XVI, HTSUS, which respectively govern chapters 73 and 85, HTSUS, both exclude articles of Chapter 95, HTSUS. Accordingly, we must first determine whether the subject articles are toys of heading 9503, HTSUS, before determining if the subject Zoolights are classifiable as keychains or flashlights. Zen believes that the subject articles are properly classifiable as toys in heading 9503, HTSUS.

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).

The EN to heading 9503, HTSUS, indicates that toys are articles “intended essentially for the amusement of persons (children or adults)”. While Zen states that it designed the subject merchandise “with toy classification in mind”, the Zoolights addressed herein clearly have utilitarian purposes in addition to the function of amusing the user. In Ideal Toy Corp. v. United States, 78 Cust. Ct. 28, 33, C.D. 4688 (1977), the Customs Court established that when amusement and utility become locked in controversy, the question becomes one of determining whether the amusement is incidental to the utilitarian purpose, or the utility purpose incidental to the amusement.

Although this case was decided under the old Tariff Schedules of the United States, this decision remains instructive in determining whether an article is principally used for amusement under the HTSUS. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 960348, dated June 6, 1997 (citing H.Rep No. 576, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. 548 (1988) at 550).

Applied to this case, the amusing qualities of the subject Zoolights are incidental to the functional qualities (either keychains of heading 7326, HTSUS or portable lamps of heading 8513, HTSUS), thus precluding classification of the subject merchandise in heading 9503, HTSUS.

With respect to the Orca Zoolight, the stylized casing of the LED, the product’s sound effects and the carabiner-like clip on the tale are incidental to the product’s primary function as a portable lamp. While the LED is hidden within the casing when not in use, the casing does not obstruct the beam, and the LED is strong enough to illuminate a keyhole or walkway. This differs from toys containing light bulbs used merely to illuminate parts of the toys, such as eyes (in the case of animals) or headlights (in the case of vehicles). See New York Letter Ruling (NY) D81433, dated September 18, 1998; NY 875247, dated July 8, 1992; NY 873311, dated April 28, 1992; and NY 862653, dated May 16, 1991. In spite of the fact that the product is equipped with toy-like features, it still functions as a portable lamp. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the Orca Zoolight is powered by replaceable batteries, thus allowing the user to continue using the product as a portable lamp for as long as desired. The EN to heading 8513, HTSUS, notes that the term “portable lamp” refers only to those lamps “which are designed for use when carried in the hand or on the person, or are designed to be attached to a portable article or object.” The Orca Zoolight is indeed a portable electric lamp designed to function by its own source of energy. It is also designed to be carried in the hand or on the person via the carabiner-like clip on the Orca’s tail. Consequently, it is provided for in heading 8513, HTSUS.

In addressing the Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights, Note 1(f) to Section XV, HTSUS, which governs Chapter 73, excludes from Section XV, “Articles of Section XVI (machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical goods)”. Although the LED component of the Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights is indeed an article of Section XVI, HTSUS, as it is classifiable in heading 8513, HTSUS, the keychain component of the goods is prima facie classifiable under heading 7326, HTSUS. Consequently, GRI 3(b) is implicated. GRI 3(b) states, in pertinent part:

(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.

In this case, the following headings apply: heading 7326, HTSUS (keychain) and heading 8513, HTSUS (portable lamp). 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.

Zen has not presented any information concerning the cost or other specifications pertaining to the Zoolights at issue here. Regardless, the role of the constituent materials (the portable lamp and the keychain) in relation to the use of the Zoolight will be the primary focus of the essential character analysis.

In this case, the portable lamp component primarily contributes to the use of the Zoolight as opposed to the keychain component. The strength of the beam emitted by the LED sufficiently illuminates a keyhole or walkway in the dark, and the light remains on until the user releases the lever, allowing the user to see the lit area for as long as necessary. Moreover, the fact that the LED is powered by replaceable batteries means that the user can take advantage of the portable lamp for an indefinite duration. These characteristics show that the product was designed to provide the user with light. The keychain component can of course be used to hold keys. Also, it can be used to attach the Zoolight to a belt loop or backpack via the metal clip. As opposed to being the principal function of the product, the keychain is indicative of an instance in which the user might require the use of the light (unlocking a door in the dark, proceeding to one’s car in the dark, etc.), making its function subordinate to that of the light component. CBP has also consistently held that with composite goods consisting of flashlights and metal keychains, the flashlights impart the goods with their essential character. For instance, in HQ 959473 (April 8, 1997), CBP held that a flashlight with a key ring is not subordinate to the key ring for purposes of determining essential character and is classifiable in heading 8513, HTSUS. In so holding, CBP noted that the flashlight primarily contributed to how the article will be used and that the flashlight imparts the essential character to the article. See also HQ 966409, dated May 11, 2004.

The conclusion that the three subject Zoolights are classifiable as flashlights under heading 8513, HTSUS, is supported by the EN to heading 8513, HTSUS, which states:

The lamps of this heading include:

(7) Fancy torches in the shape of pistols, lipsticks, etc. Composite articles composed of a lamp or torch and a pen, screwdriver, key ring, etc. remain classified here only if the principal function of the whole is the provision of light. (emphasis in original)

As the EN indicates, the article should be classified in heading 8513, HTSUS, if its principal function is to provide light. While the subject Zoolights are encased in plastic figures to the point where the LEDs are not visible, this does not prevent the LEDs from emitting a functional beam of light. See New York Ruling Letter (NY) D80038, dated August 7, 1998 (holding that the Squeeze Bug Light, which consisted of a light housed in a stylized plastic ladybug with a metal key ring affixed was classifiable as a flashlight because the light component imparted the essential character to the product). The light function of the Zoolights is also prominently advertised on the products’ labels. Aside from the name, Zoolight, the labels of the Frog Zoolight and the Dinosaur Zoolight depict both products with their lights activated along with wording alluding to the “super bright LED light.” Furthermore, the fact that the products are powered by replaceable batteries, which is advertised on the reverse side of the label, indicates that the articles are designed to provide light and not merely as a compliment to the keychain component or the novelty aspects of the product.

To summarize, the Zoolight products at issue here are not properly classifiable as toys in heading 9503, HTSUS, per Note 1(l) to Section XV, HTSUS, and Note 1(p) to Section XVI, HTSUS. They possess components that primarily function to serve purposes other than simply to amuse the user. In the case of the Orca Zoolight, this requires classification in heading 8513, HTSUS, as a flashlight. The Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights are also classifiable in heading 8513, HTSUS, by virtue of the fact that the portable lamp component of both products imparts the essential character of the Zoolights as opposed to the keychain component.

Classification of the subject merchandise within heading 8513, HTSUS, implicates GRI 6, which states:

For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheading of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this rule, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.

The pertinent HTSUS provisions are subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS, which provides for flashlights and subheading 8513.10.40, HTSUS, which provides for other portable lamps. The term “flashlight” has been judicially determined to mean a small, battery-operated, portable electric light, normally held in the hand by the housing. See Sanyo Electric Inc. v. United States, 496 F.Supp. 1311, aff’d., 642 F2d 435 (CAFC 1981); see also Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 951855, dated July 24, 1993, HQ 084852, dated March 28, 1990, and HQ 962528, dated February 18, 2000. Articles that satisfy this definition are classified under the eo nomine subheading 8513.10.20, HTSUS. See also HQ W968278, dated March 30, 2007. The subject Zoolights also satisfy the definition of “flashlights” set forth in Sanyo, and they are thus classifiable accordingly.


By application of GRI 1 for the Orca Zoolight and GRI 3(b) for the Frog and Dinosaur Zoolights, the subject Zoolights are classifiable in heading 8513, HTSUS. By application of GRI 6, the goods are specifically provided for in subheading 8513.10.2000, HTSUSA which provides for: “Portable electric lamps designed to function by their own source of energy : Lamps: Flashlights.” The column one, general rate of duty is 12.5 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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