On September 1, 2009, the CIT issued its decision in ENI Technology Inc. v. United States on the proper classification of radio frequency (“RF”) generators imported by plaintiff ENI Technology Inc. (“ENI”) for use in semiconductor manufacturing processes. CBP classified the RF generators as static converters within HTSUS subheading 8504.40.95 dutiable at 1.5 percent ad valorem. ENI claimed the goods should have been classified as “machines [used] for processing semiconductor materials” within HTSUS subheading 8479.89.84 at a free rate of duty. The CIT ultimately rejected CBP’s classification, and directed the parties to confer to determine the appropriate subheadings for ENI’s merchandise.
ENI’s primary claim was that its RF generators—despite the potential for other industrial uses—were principally used by consumers as parts of a plasma processing system that manufactured semiconductors and integrated circuits, and were principally designed to produce RF current or RF power for this principal use. The CIT concluded that the scope of HTSUS heading 8504 excludes machines with the RF generators’ particular function—to convert fixed-frequency alternating current to fixed-frequency alternating current at another frequency via direct current. However, the CIT found that only RF generators imported for principal use with chemical vapor deposition apparatus for semiconductor processing should be classified within HTSUS subheading 8479.89.84. RF generators imported for principal use with plasma etching devices for the processing of semiconductors, the CIT determined, are properly classified within HTSUS subheading 8466.93.85. The CIT further noted that, since HTSUS subheading 8543.90.10 is more specific than subheading 8479.89.84, RF generators imported for principal use with physical vapor deposition apparatus for processing of semiconductors are classified within HTSUS subheading 8543.90.10, rather than HTSUS subheading 8479.89.84.