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HQ 952074

February 26, 1993

CO:R:C:T 952074 SK


TARIFF NO.: 4203.21.8060

Peter J. Fitch
Fitch, King and Caffentzis
116 John Street
New York, New York 10038

RE: Classification of leather and man-made fiber glove from Korea; not batting glove; not drummer's glove; subheading 4203.21.8060, HTSUSA; leather palm, synthetic mesh covering for back of hand, wrist vent and velcro-like closure indicative of special design for use in sports; Subheading EN to heading 4203.

Dear Mr. Fitch:

This is in response to your inquiry of June 12, 1992, on behalf of your client, Universal Percussion, Inc., requesting the classification of a leather and man-made fiber glove from Korea. A sample was submitted for Customs' examination.


The submitted sample, referenced UPDG, is a man's leather and synthetic mesh and knit full-fingered glove. It has a thin leather palm, finely knit fourchettes and a man-made fiber mesh back. The glove has a two-inch vent on top of the wrist secured with a velcro-like strap, and the underside of the wrist is elasticized. The submitted sample has an abstract black and white stitched graphic design on the closure strap.

A photocopy of page 35 of the importer's catalogue advertises the submitted sample as "DRUMMERS' GLOVES" and the copy reads: "No more sore hands or callouses; Touch sensitive leather palm actually increases your grip; Ventilated knit back allows your hand to breathe; Super light weight. White-Red- Black. Medium or Large." A photograph shows the gloves being worn on two hands, presumably by a drummer.


Is the submitted sample classifiable as a batting glove
under heading 4203, HTSUSA, or under that heading's statistical breakout at the subheading level for "other" sports gloves or "other" leather gloves?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may be applied, in order of their appearance.

Our first inquiry is whether the leather or the textile component of the subject merchandise governs classification. When articles are classifiable under two headings in the nomenclature, in the instant case heading 6116, HTSUSA, which provides for, inter alia, knit gloves and heading 4203, HTSUSA, which provides for leather articles of apparel and clothing accessories, classification is determined using a GRI 3(b) analysis. GRI 3(b) states:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components...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.

Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) states:

The factor which determined 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 the instant case, the majority of the glove's surface area is covered with leather. The leather is significantly more expensive than the knit textile components and, although the textile portion provides for flexibility and ventilation, it is the leather which affords the wearer a better grip and this is the motivating impetus for the purchase of this glove. Accordingly, it is the leather component which imparts the essential character to this article.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to heading 4203, HTSUSA, which provide the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, state that the heading covers clothing
accessories of leather or of composition leather. As the article at issue is a leather glove, there is no doubt that classification is proper under heading 4203, HTSUSA.

The distinction need now be made whether the subject merchandise is more aptly classified as a batting glove under subheading 4203.21.2000, HTSUSA, as an "other" sports glove under subheading 4203.21.8060, HTSUSA, or as an "other" leather glove under subheading 4203.29.1500, HTSUSA.

In your submission you assert that the subject merchandise is properly classifiable as a batting glove under subheading 4203.21.2000, HTSUSA, for two reasons: 1) the glove is of the class or kind principally used in the United States as a batting glove, and 2) the glove at issue is "virtually identical" to the glove classified in Headquarters Ruling Letter 086355, dated May 16, 1990, as a batting glove.

Classification as a particular sport glove requires that the glove be "specially designed" for use in that sport. Subheading Explanatory Note to section 4203.21, HTSUSA, states that "[t]he expression 'Gloves, mittens and mitts, specially designed for use in sports' includes gloves, mittens and mitts, whether sold singly or in pairs, having functional design features which make them particularly suitable for use in sports (e.g., ice hockey gloves, which protect the hands and assist the holding of the stick, and boxing gloves)." (emphasis added) In the instant case, we are not prepared to hold that the subject merchandise has been specially designed for use as a batting glove inasmuch as it is not suitable for use as such. Batting gloves must serve several functions: 1) reduce bat "sting; 2) afford a better grip when at bat; 3) protect the hand when sliding into base; and 4) protect the hands from impact when catching the ball. It is this office's position that the article at issue has not been specially designed for these purposes: the leather palm is very thin and will not adequately protect from bat sting nor from the impact of a ball; the textile mesh back is too delicate to afford protection when sliding nor will it withstand the stress of being repeatedly shoved in and out of a baseball glove. This glove is not substantial enough to hold up well under the normal rigors of baseball.

On site visits to several sporting goods stores in the Washington, D.C. area were performed for the purpose of specifically examining the batting gloves offered for sale. Each glove was significantly different than the submitted sample. Primarily, the differences were in construction and the types of material used. The batting gloves examined used much thicker palm leather and the glove backs were made from significantly
thicker synthetic fibers, often ribbed and opaque in appearance. Some of the gloves had the forefinger and little finger nearly encased in leather. Accordingly, contrary to your assertion, the glove at issue is not of the class or kind principally used in the U.S. as a batting glove.

The submitted sample is not "virtually identical" to the glove the subject of HRL 086355. The glove in the instant case is distinguishable from the glove the subject of that ruling in that it is less substantial in its construction and made from thinner leather.

Subheading 4203.21.8060, HTSUSA, provides for "other" gloves specially designed for use in sports. The statistical breakout at the subheading level does not expressly set forth the exact type of sport for which the glove must be designed. Rather, as the "other" designation suggests, a glove is properly classifiable here if it is specially designed for sporting activities not specifically enumerated in the other subheadings of 4203, HTSUSA. Design features particularly suitable for use in sports generally include wrist vents which promote mobility, ventilated knit mesh fabric covering the back of the hand which allows perspiration to evaporate and allows great flexibility of movement when grasping various pieces of sports equipment, and a thin leather palm which, while not sturdy enough to be used as a batting glove, is nevertheless suitable for use in other sports where a more secure grip and protection from callouses is desirable (i.e., golfing, racquetball, etc...). The submitted sample possesses features which indicate that it is specially designed for use in sports generally. These very same design features render the glove impractical for use in most non-sport activities, with the exception of drumming. The glove will not provide warmth, it is not protective, nor is it aesthetically pleasing as a fashion glove. Also, the glove is of no practical use outside the sports arena if it is sold individually and not as a pair. For these reasons, classification under subheading 4203.29.1500, HTSUSA, as "other" gloves of leather is not proper.

Although we recognize the suitability of this glove for use as a drummers' glove, and the importer's catalogue indicates that it is marketed as such, this glove's use in sports will most assuredly outweigh any other uses to which it will be put. In other words, contrary to the fact that it may be used as a drummers' glove, it is nevertheless of the class or kind of glove principally used in various sporting activities which require a secure grip and light protection. As an aside, we note that although drumming is not a "sport", it requires the exact same capabilities from a glove that many sports do: secure grip, good ventilation, and flexibility of movement.


The submitted sample is classifiable under subheading 4203.21.8060, HTSUSA, which provides for gloves, mittens and mitts specially designed for use in other sports not specifically enumerated. The rate of duty is 4.9 percent ad valorem.

Due to the nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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