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HQ 953449

March 29, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 953449 SK


TARIFF NO.: 4203.21.8060

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

RE: Modification of HRL 086355 (5/16/90); 4203.21.8060; classification of leather and man-made fiber glove; not batting glove; not drummer's glove; leather palm, synthetic mesh covering for back of hand, velcro-like closure indicative of special design for use in sports; Subheading EN to heading 4203.

Dear Mr. Fitch:

On May 16, 1990, this office issued Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 086355, in which we responded to your request for a binding ruling for "batting gloves" on behalf of your client, Chonwoo Corporation. Upon review, we have determined that that ruling is in error and is accordingly modified. Our analysis follows.


The glove at issue is a man's leather and synthetic mesh and knit full-fingered glove. The glove has leather covering the surface of the palm and inside surface of the thumb and a man- made fiber mesh back. Also featured are fourchettes and a velcro-type closure on the back. The glove is packed in a plastic bag and is stated to be sold either separately or in pairs. The label on the package states that the merchandise is "Leather Batting Gloves."


Is the glove at issue specifically designed for use in sports such that it is classifiable as a batting glove under heading 4203, HTSUSA?


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 nomenclature 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.

As this office held in HRL 952074, dated February 26, 1993, 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)

The glove in the instant case possesses similar features to the glove classified in HRL 952074, except that the glove presently under review has a slightly thicker leather palm. In HRL 952074, Customs was not prepared to hold that the glove then at issue had been specially designed for use as a batting glove. In that ruling, Customs noted that 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. Similarly, it is this office's position that the glove currently under consideration has not been specially designed for these purposes: the leather palm is thin and will not adequately protect the hand from the impact of a ball; the textile mesh back is too flimsy in construction to afford proper protection or to withstand the rigors of baseball.

In HRL 952074, Customs noted that on site visits made to several sporting goods stores in the Washington, D.C. area revealed that the gloves displayed as batting gloves were significantly different from the glove then under review. 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. We reach the same conclusion in the instant case: the subject merchandise is not of the class or kind of glove principally used in the U.S. as a batting glove as it is too delicate in its construction. The glove is not substantial enough to hold up well under the normal rigors of baseball and therefore classification is not proper as a batting glove under subheading 4203.21.20, HTSUSA.

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 adequate for use in other sports where a more secure grip and protection from callouses is desirable (i.e., golfing, racquetball, etc...). The glove under review 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. Sold as a pair, the gloves will not provide warmth, nor are they protective, nor aesthetically pleasing as fashion gloves. 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.


The glove at issue 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.

HRL 086355 is modified in conformity to the foregoing.

In order to ensure uniformity in Customs' classification of this merchandise and eliminate uncertainty, pursuant to section 177.9(d)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(d)(1)), HRL 086355 is modified to reflect the above classification effective with the date of this letter.

This modification is not retroactive. However, for the purposes of future transactions, HRL 086355 will not be valid for importations of the subject merchandise arriving in the United States after the date of this notice. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected (i.e., merchandise previously ordered and arriving in the United States subsequent to this modification will be classified accordingly). If it can be shown that you relied on HRL 086355 to your detriment, you may apply to this office for relief. However, you should be aware that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.


John Durant, Director

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