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Polishing pads for semiconductor wafer-polishing machines not classifiable as its parts

30th July, 2012

Polishing pads intended for a polishing machine for working semiconductor materials are classifiable under Heading 3919 of the Common Customs Tariff of EU. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), in its recent order dated 19-7-2012, has held that such items do not fall under Heading 8466/8486.    

The Court was answering the question in the case Receveur principal des douanes de Roissy Sud v. Rohm & Haas Electronic Materials CMP Europe GmbH. It held that such pads which were imported separately from the machine, in the form of discs perforated in the centre, made up of a hard polyurethane layer, a layer of polyurethane foam, an adhesive layer and a protective plastic film, do not contain any metal part or any abrasive substance and are used to polish ‘wafers’, in combination with an abrasive liquid. These pads fall under sub-heading 3919 90 10, as self-adhesive flat shapes, other than squares or rectangles, made of plastic.    

The question that arose before the reference court was that whether such pads would be classifiable as part or accessory of the machine in which they are to be used or under Heading 3919 considering its constituent material, which also has a higher rate of duty.  

The Court held that such pads were not parts or accessories as mechanical and electrical functioning of the polishing machine was not dependent on polishing pads. It was noted that polishing pads were not essential for the operation of wafer-polishing machines, they do not enable those machines to be adapted for a particular operation, nor do they increase their range of operations, or enable them to perform a particular service connected with their main function.  

The Court further relying on earlier case law noted that neither the fact that a good is intended exclusively to be used with a particular kind of machine nor the fact that it is possible that the machine may already be fitted with that good are, relevant considerations for the purposes of classifying the good in question as a ‘part’ or ‘accessory’.
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