Classification of glass tubes used in sprinkler systems | KPMG | GLOBAL
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Classification of glass tubes used in sprinkler systems, water heaters

Classification of glass tubes used in sprinkler systems

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today affirmed the trade court’s grant of summary judgment for the government in a case concerning the proper HTSUS classification of certain liquid-filled glass bulbs.


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The case is: Tyco Fire Products, Ltd. v. United States, 2015-1968, 2015-1969 (Fed. Cir. November 18, 2016). Read the Federal Circuit’s decision [PDF 130 KB]


At issue were imports of liquid-filed glass bulbs that consisted of a sealed, hollow glass tube that is filed with colored liquid and an air bubble. These tubes are commonly used as a temperature-dependent trigger component of fire sprinkler heads. They can also be used in water heaters.

The bulbs were purchased from German manufacturers, and between 2004 and 2006, there were 42 different models of bulbs imported into the United States (39 models were used in fire sprinklers and the other three models were used in water heaters). 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) classified the bulbs as “other articles of glass” under HTSUS subheading 7020.00.60 which has a 5% rate of duty. The importer asserted that the bulbs were more properly classified under HTSUS subheading 8424.90.90, as “other” “parts” of goods and were duty-free.

The U.S. Court of International Trade granted summary judgment for the government, and agreed with CBP’s findings that the bulbs were properly classified as articles of glass under Heading 7020. The trade court noted that a Chapter Note to Chapter 84 excludes “other articles for technical uses or parts thereof, of glass….” The trade court found the bulbs were of glass within the meaning of the exclusion.

Today, the Federal Circuit affirmed. 


For more information, contact a professional with KPMG’s Trade & Customs practice:

Douglas Zuvich | +1 (312) 665-1022 |

Andrew Siciliano | +1 (631) 425-6057 |

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