Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If the Shoe Fits, It's a Shoe

Recently, in the United States Court of International Trade, Plaintiff Alpinestars S.p.A. ("Alpinestars") challenged the decision of Defendant U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("Customs") denying Alpinestars' Protest of Customs' classification of the imported Tech 8 motocross boot within the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States ("HTSUS"). Customs classified the merchandise as
"Other footwear with outer soles and uppers of rubber or plastics: Other footwear: Covering the ankle: Other: Other: Other: Valued over $12/pair" under subheading 6402.91.90, HTSUS, which carries a 20% duty rate.
Plaintiff claimed that the merchandise is properly classified as
"Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis) or outdoor games, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; swimming pools and wading pools; parts and accessories thereof: Other: Other: Other" under subheading 9506.99.60 of the HTSUS, which carries a 4% duty rate.
Alternatively, Plaintiff argued that the subject merchandise is classifiable as
"Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of leather: Other footwear: Covering the ankle: For men, youths and boys” under HTSUS subheading 6403.91.60 with a 8.5% duty rate, or as "Other footwear with outer soles and suppers of rubber or plastics: Sports footwear: Other: Other: Valued over $12/pair," under subheading 6402.19.90, HTSUS, dutiable at 9%.

The Court, following earlier court decisions that established that "sports equipment is defined as non-apparel-like merchandise that is necessary, useful, or appropriate for a sport, and if the merchandise is worn by a user, those articles are almost exclusively protective in nature and would complement, or be worn in addition to, apparel worn for a particular sport," found that--

"the Tech 8 boot is not worn to complement or be worn in addition to other apparel" and that "Clothing and footwear are the two essential items that people wear, regardless of whether one is dressing for a sport. The Tech 8 boot is exactly that, a boot. It is simply footwear and not an item used to enhance, i.e., "complement or be in addition" to apparel. Therefore, it is not sports equipment under Heading 9506.

Having determined that the Tech 8 is not classifiable under Heading 9506, the court turned to whether it is properly classifiable under footwear headings, 6403 or 6402. For that discussion and finding, read Judge Leo M. Gordon's opinion on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website by clicking here beginning on page 71.

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