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HQ 966647

September 10, 2003

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 966647 JFS


TARIFF NO: 6116.93.9400; 6216.00.5820

Mr. Milton Weinberg & Ms. Lyn Antunes
Norman Krieger, Inc.
5761 W. Imperial Highway
Los Angeles, CA 90045

RE: Revocation of NY C81172 and NY D83272; Classification of Mechanic’s Gloves; Not Sports Gloves

Dear Mr. Weinberg and Ms. Antunes:

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued two ruling letters, New York Ruling Letter (NY) C81172, dated November 17, 1997, and NY D83272, dated October 20, 1998, to you on behalf of your client Simpson Fire Suit Inc., regarding the classification of gloves under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). CBP also issued Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 965592, dated September 18, 2002, NY A86298, dated August 8, 1996, and NY B85790, dated June 5, 1997, concerning the tariff classification of substantially similar mechanic’s gloves manufactured by producers other than your client.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1) Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)) as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-82, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186), notice of the proposed modification of HQ 965592, and revocation of NY A86298 and NY B85790, was published on May 21, 2003, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 37, Number 21. As explained in the notice, the period within which to submit comments on this proposal ended on June 20, 2003. Two comments were received in response to the proposed modification/revocations.

NY C81172 and NY D83272, which were issued to you on behalf of your client, are subject to the proposed revocation. After careful consideration of the comments, we have decided to revoke those rulings. Accordingly, this ruling revokes NY C81172 and NY D83272.

One commenter appropriately summarizes the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) proposed modification as being “based upon Customs’ determination that the activity for which the gloves are allegedly used – auto mechanic functions in professional or amateur automobile racing – do not constitute ‘sporting activities’ for tariff classification purposes.” The commenter does not “express an opinion concerning whether a person who serves as a mechanic during an auto race is engaged in a ‘sport’ or ‘sporting activity’”. Instead the commenter proposes that CBP formulate and publish a set of standard factors to be evaluated in determining whether gloves are “specially designed for use in sports.” While we are open to considering such factors in the future, the issue in this ruling is whether the auto mechanic in the pit crew is engaged in a sporting activity. Thus, we decline to formulate standard factors at this time.

The other commenter presents evidence that the members of a pit crew are in fact athletes engaged in athletic competition during a race. Therefore, accordingly to the commenter, the instant gloves are “specially designed for use in sports” and should be so classified. This commenter’s arguments are addressed in the LAW AND ANALYSIS portion of this ruling.


In NY C81172, CBP considered one pair of gloves, identified as product number 39026, which were described as follows:

[The glove] is intended for use by the refueler or other pit crew members of auto racing teams. The glove has a complete backside and a sewn-in 3 inch wide by 12 inch long tubular extension sleeve constructed of knitted aramid (Nomex) fabric. This fabric is heat resistant. Leather suede comprises the remainder of the glove, including the palmside, overlayed palm patch, fourchettes, and backside fingertip patches and half thumb. The glove features a 1 1/2 inch wide elasticized wrist cuff, a "Simpson Race Products" label attached on the backside leather tab strap which closes by means of hook and loop fabric and a rubberized "Wrenchers" label sewn on backside above the cuff. The cumulation of features shows a design for use by pit crew members in the sport of auto racing.

CBP classified the glove 6116.93.0800, HTSUSA, which provides for Gloves, mittens and mitts, knitted or crocheted: Other: Of synthetic fibers: Other gloves, mittens and mitts, all the foregoing specially designed for use in sports, including ski and snowmobile gloves, mittens and mitts. The rate of duty is 3.1 percent ad valorem.

In NY D83272, CBP considered another pair of gloves, identified as product number 39031, which were described as follows:

[S]tyle 39031/size medium, is a glove with a palmside from fingertips to wrist and vented fourchettes constructed of a synthetic leather fabric. The backside of the glove is constructed of two different knitted fabrics sandwiched over an inner foam liner with PVC reinforcements on the three middle fingertips. Terry cloth fabric covers the backside foam padded thumb to serve as a brow wipe. Additional features include a PVC coated palm patch, a 1 1/2 inch wide elasticized wrist cuff, "Simpson Race Products" is printed across the backside vinyl tab strap which closes by means of hook and loop fabric and a rubberized "Wrenchers" label sewn on the backside above the cuff. The glove will also be available in the following style numbers for the indicated sizes: 39030/small, 39032/large, 39033/X-large, and 39034/XX-large. The cumulation of features shows a design for use by pit crew members in the sport of auto racing.

CBP classified the glove in subheading 6216.00.4600, HTSUSA, which provides for Gloves, mittens and mitts: Other: Of man-made fibers: Other gloves, mittens and mitts, all the foregoing specially designed for use in sports, including ski and snowmobile gloves, mittens and mitts. The rate of duty was 301 percent ad valorem.


Whether the gloves are specially designed for use in sports.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides, in part, that classification decisions are to be “determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.” In the event that 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 then be applied.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) and facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI. While neither legally binding nor dispositive of classification issues, the EN provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUSA and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Subheadings 6116.93.0800 and 6216.00.46, HTSUSA, provide, in part, for gloves, mittens and mitts, specially designed for use in sports. As this is a "use" provision, determining whether an article is classifiable in subheading 6116.93.0800, HTSUSA, or subheading 6216.00.46, HTSUSA, requires consideration of whether the article has particular features that adapt it for the stated purpose. In Sports Industries, Inc. v. United States, 65 Cust. Ct. 470, C.D. 4125 (1970), the court, in interpreting the term "designed for use," under the Tariff Schedules of the United States, the predecessor to the HTSUSA, examined not only the features of the articles, but also the materials selected and the marketing, advertising and sale of the article. The case suggests that, to be classifiable in subheading 6116.93.0800 or 6216.00.46, the subject gloves must be shown to be, in fact, specially designed for use in a particular sport. Accordingly, a conclusion that a certain glove is "specially designed" for a particular sport, requires more than a mere determination of whether the glove or pair of gloves could possibly be used in a certain sport. In determining whether gloves are specially designed for use in sports, CBP considers the connection the gloves have to an identified sporting activity, the features designed for that sporting activity, and how the gloves are marketed, advertised and sold in relation to the named sport.

While the term "sport" is not defined in the tariff, in HQ 089849, dated August 16, 1991, CBP noted that common dictionaries defined the term "sport" as "an activity requiring more or less vigorous bodily exertion and carried on according to some traditional form or set of rules, whether outdoors, as football, hunting, golf, racing, etc., or indoors, as basketball, bowling, squash, etc." In Newman Importing Company, Inc. v. United States, 415 F. Supp. 375, 76 Cust. Ct. 143, Cust. Dec. 4648 (1976), in finding backpacking to be a sport, the court determined that the term "sport" is not solely defined in terms of competitiveness, but also arises from the development and pursuit of a variety of skills. In this respect, in HQ 957848, dated August 10, 1995, CBP found hunting, fishing, canoeing, archery and similar outdoor activities to fall within the purview of "sport." The American College Dictionary (1970) defines the term "sport" as "a pastime pursued in the open air or having an athletic character." Likewise, Webster's New Dictionary of the English Language (2001) defines "sport" as:

1: a source of diversion: PASTIME

2: physical activity engaged in for pleasure.

The term "sport" appears to also encompass activities in which individuals engage professionally (i.e., professional sports).

In HQ 964901, dated January 31, 2002, CBP defines the term “sport” according to The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, the Unabridged Edition (1983) as:
an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing hunting, fishing, etc.

2. a particular form of this, esp. in the out of doors.

In HQ 965692, dated September 18, 2002, we recognized that motorsports racing is a sporting activity, and noted that pit-crew members are an integral component of the sport, for purposes of tariff classification. Because the gloves under consideration were specially designed for the mechanics that work in the pit-crew, we classified the gloves as being specially designed for use in sports. However, upon further consideration of the role of pit-crew members, CBP concludes that while they are an integral component of the team, the actual role and function, of a mechanic do not constitute a sporting activity.

When there is doubt as to whether a certain activity constitutes a sport for tariff classification purposes, CBP balances a range of factors, which include the degree of bodily exertion, the use of traditional rules, the degree of competitiveness, the origin of the activity, and common recognition as a sport. In HQ 962745, dated October 25, 1999, in determining whether the activity of “dancing” is a sport, CBP found that while it may entail competition, require athleticism, involve physical and mental exertion, etc., notwithstanding news accounts about the International Olympic Committee taking action to grant provisional recognition to the “sports” of ballroom dancing and surfing in the Games program, we found that for classification purposes, dancing is not a sport.

In HQ 965712, dated August 28, 2002, we likewise found that “lumberjacking” is not a sport. As “lumberjacking” does not originate from a recreational pastime as activities typically considered sports, we found that “lumberjacking” is most accurately described as an occupation, not a pastime. In that ruling, we noted that while “lumberjacking” contests have stemmed from the trade, such events fell short of establishing “lumberjacking” as a sport for tariff classification purposes. Moreover, we found that while some may consider “lumberjacking” to be a "pastime" and a "physical activity engaged in for pleasure," it has neither gained mainstream acceptance as a sport nor is it a sport in the traditional sense of the word. Thus, we concluded that although those gloves may have had features useful in the activity of “lumberjacking,” they were not specially designed for use in sports.

A mechanic is a professional technician that employs extensive knowledge and technical skills to perform his duties. Being a mechanic requires much more than the mere performing of an athletic activity that is required in almost all sporting activities. There are different levels and types of certification for mechanics that are based on their skill and training. Mechanics receive training and education on the job and at colleges and trade schools. Indeed, there is even an institute to train NASCAR mechanics titled the Nascar Technical Institute. The promotional information at their web-site states as follows:

Nascar Technical Institute in Mooresville, NC is the first technical training school to combine automotive and NASCAR technology delivering hands-on NASCAR training.

The Nascar Technical Institute is a part of Universal Technical Institute (UTI), providing industry customers with professional technicians by offering entry-level, manufacturer-specific and update training in automotive, collision repair and refinishing, and diesel, as well as motorcycle, marine, personal watercraft and heating/ventilation/air conditioning/refrigeration.

At the first ever Nascar Technical Institute, you will learn the basics of

Engine Construction
Body and Aero Applications
Chassis Applications
Body Fabrication
Chassis Fabrication
Dyno Testing for Performance and Durability

The Nascar Technical Institute delivers the necessary training to excel as an entry-level technician, as well as the additional training required to enter the motor sports industry.
www.mechanicschools.com/nascarschool.html. These skills, engine construction, body and chassis fabrication, aero applications, to name a few, are not traditionally associated with sporting activities.

Moreover, the term “mechanic” is defined in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2002, as:

Function: adjective
1 : of or relating to manual work or skill

Function: noun
1 : a manual worker

These definitions focus on the manual labor aspect of the duties of a mechanic. Nonetheless, they demonstrate that a mechanic’s occupation is not traditionally thought of as a sporting profession, but is instead considered a form of labor or work.

Mechanics, be they pit-crew mechanics or mechanics working in an automotive repair shop, engage in the activity of maintaining and repairing automobiles. Thus, even though a pit-crew member performs his functions under extreme conditions and circumstances, the functions performed are essentially the same as those performed by the mechanic at the local repair shop. Accordingly, because the functions performed by mechanics are not sporting activities, the gloves used by pit-crew mechanics are not “specially designed for use in sports.”

Finally, it cannot be overlooked that mechanic’s gloves are marketed and sold to average consumers through auto parts retailers. Thus, while mechanic’s gloves may have been designed with the pit-crew mechanic in mind, most of the sales and revenue are generated by sales to consumers and not those directly involved in auto racing. Moreover, mechanic’s gloves are sold and marketed through construction and industrial suppliers.

For Example, MSC Industrial Supply Co., Argas – Solutions in Safety, Conney (www.Conney.com), and labsafety.com. These suppliers also sell substantially similar gloves that are not marketed as “mechanic’s gloves” but that have similar features. However, they are not classified as being specially designed for use in sports.

One commenter has provided considerable evidence in support of the argument that pit-crew members are athletes engaged in athletic activity, and that they are an integral component of the sport of auto racing. The commenter explains that in NASCAR the pit-crew may have as many as fourteen or fifteen members. However only seven are allowed to go “over the wall” to service the car during a pit stop. In certain races eight members are allowed to go “over the wall.” The seven-member “over-the-wall” crew is comprised of (1) a front tire carrier, (2) a front tire changer, (3) a rear tire carrier, (4) a rear tire changer, (5) a jack man, (6) a gas man and (7) a catch-can person who assists the gas man. The commenter argues that the individuals who fill these positions are hired more for their athletic ability than for their technical skill. Their athletic ability is crucial, according to the commenter, because many races are won or lost in the pit stop.

We do not dispute the importance of the athletic ability of the pit-crew members that go “over the wall.” Nor do we contest that these abilities, mainly speed and agility, enable them to swiftly complete competitive pit stops that are vital to winning the race. That being said, the functions that they perform are inherently mechanical. Moreover, the gloves in question are worn and used by the pit-crew members that remain behind the wall. The glove identified as product number 39026 is intended for use by the gas man as well as other member of the pit-crew. Thus, it is presumed that the glove is intended for use by the pit-crew members who do not go over the wall. These members also perform the more traditional and technical duties of mechanics before, during, and after the race. Accordingly, even though the “over-the-wall” pit-crew members may be more active participants in the racing aspect, the duties they perform basically remain those of a mechanic. As the gloves are designed to be used by the pit-crew carrying out mechanic duties, as well as their “over-the-wall” activities, we find that, for classification purposes the gloves are not specially designed for use in sports.


NY C81172, dated November 17, 1997, and NY D83272, dated October 20, 1998, are hereby revoked.

The glove, identified by product number 39026 is properly classified in subheading 6116.93.9400, HTSUSA, which provides for "Gloves, mittens and mitts, knitted or crocheted: Other: Of Synthetic fibers: Other: Other: With fourchettes.” The general column one rate of duty is 18.7 cents per kilogram and the textile restraint category is 631.

The glove, identified by style 39031, is properly classified in subheading 6216.00.5820, HTSUSA, which provides for "Gloves, mittens and mitts: Other: Other: Of man-made fibers: With fourchettes, Other." The general column one rate of duty is 20.8 cents per kilogram plus 10.5 percent ad valorem and the textile restraint category is 631.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, the visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest your client check, close to the time of shipment, The Textile Status Report for Absolute Quotas previously available on the Customs Electronic Bulletin Board (CEBB) which is now available on the CBP Website at www.cbp.gov.

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

In accordance with 19 U.S.C. §1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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