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HQ 967740

June 21, 2005

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 967740 BtB


TARIFF NO.: 9506.99.2000

David M. Murphy, Esq.
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP 399 Park Avenue
25th Floor
New York, NY 10022-4877

RE: Classification of Soccer Shinguards

Dear Mr. Murphy:

This is in response to your May 20, 2005 letter on behalf of Franklin Sports, Inc. to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) requesting the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (“HTSUSA”) of certain soccer shinguards.

Although your letter was addressed to CBP’s National Commodity Specialist Division in New York, it has been forwarded to this office for a reply. The sample that you provided has also been forwarded to this office and will be returned to you under separate cover.


The merchandise at issue is a pair of Franklin ACD Sock’R Shinguards (“Sock’R Shinguards”). Each shinguard consists of a hard-plastic (high density polyethylene) guard with EVA foam backing that has an anti-microbial treatment. Each shinguard is specially-fitted to its own sock, made of 100% polyester knit fabric, that has an internal form-fitting front pocket that holds the shinguard securely in place. The shinguards are removable and the socks are machine washable. The shinguards come in three sizes: adult, youth and peewee.


Whether the Sock’R Shinguards are classified in heading 9506, as sports equipment.


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." If the 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, in order.

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).

Heading 9506, HTSUS, provides for “Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis) or outdoor games, not specified or included elsewhere in [Chapter 95]; swimming pools and wading pools; parts and accessories thereof.” In regard to protective equipment covered by the heading, the EN to heading 9506, lists the following exemplars: “fencing masks and breast plates, elbow and knee pads, cricket pads, shin-guards.”

In the recent case, Bauer Nike Hockey USA, Inc. v. United States, 393 F.3d 1246 (Fed. Cir., 2004), the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) found two styles of hockey pants with textile shells and interior assemblies of hard plastic guards and soft pads to be “equipment” under heading 9506, HTSUS, because they were “specially designed and intended for use only while playing ice hockey.”

As in Bauer, we find that the Sock’R Shinguards are covered by heading 9506, HTSUSA, because they are specially designed and intended for use only while participating in sports. Generally, an article that is worn, consisting of textile and non-textile components, will be held to meet this criterion only if it incorporates thick non-textile protective guards or pads that are designed exclusively for protection against injury, that is, having protective features with the sole or primary function of directly absorbing the impact of blows, collisions, or flying objects. Generally, these non-textile protective guards will be non-removable or specially-fitted to be inserted into textile parts of the articles, made of hard plastic or thick foam, and make the articles impractical to use as everyday wearing apparel. Articles with only textile or insubstantial non-textile padding will generally not meet this criterion.

The Sock’R Shinguards at issue incorporate hard plastic protective guards designed exclusively to protect the shins against injury by absorbing blows, collisions, or flying objects while playing soccer. These hard protective guards are specially-fitted to the polyester socks that are designed to keep them in place. The features of the articles make them especially suited for playing soccer, the use for which they are designed and marketed, and impractical to use as everyday wearing apparel. Therefore, we find that the Sock’R Shinguards are classified in heading 9506, HTSUSA.


The Franklin ACD Sock’R Shinguards are classified in subheading 9506.99.2000, HTSUSA, which provides for, among other articles, “Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports : Other: Other: soccer articles and equipment, except balls, and parts and accessories thereof.” The applicable column one, general duty rate under the 2005 HTSUSA is “free.” This classification is consistent with the holding in NY G87127, dated February 28, 2001, in which CBP classified a substantially similar article in the same provision.


Myles B. Harmon, Director

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