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Court Case Being Litigated To Have Sports Sandal Reclassified As "Athletic Footwear"

March 14, 2005

We wish to advise you that a case is being litigated in the U.S. Court of International Trade ("C.I.T."), seeking to have the Court determine that a certain sports sandal be considered as "athletic footwear" for purposes of classification in Chapter 64. U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") takes a position that the sports sandal should be classified as non-athletic footwear.

The merchandise at issue consists of a sandal with straps that securely fasten the sandal to the foot of the wearer, similar to the Teva sports sandals. The sandal is capable of being used in certain athletic activities.

At the time of importation, the sandal was classified by CBP under HTS subheading 6404.0018 as footwear with open toes and open heels, with uppers of textile, at the duty rate of 37.5%. The importer is claiming the sandal under HTS 6404.11.80 as athletic footwear with uppers of textile, between $9 and $12, at the duty rate of 90 cents per pair + 20% ad valorem.

At issue is the interpretation of the language in subheading 6404.11, which covers "athletic shoes, tennis shoes for sporting activities and the like".

It is CBP's interpretation that not all shoes that are used in athletic or strenuous activities are considered "athletic" for purposes of the tariff language above. For example, CBP has held that hiking boots, even though they may be used in trail hiking, mountain climbing, or other similar activity, are not considered "athletic" for purposes of Heading 6404.

The importer hopes to convince the Court that the sports sandal at issue, which is used by consumers in various athletic activities, can be considered "athletic shoes . and the like".  

It is unclear as to when this case will reach trial. We understand that the Government may file a motion for summary judgment in order to resolve this case. However, if the Court finds that there are material issues of fact in issue, the motion will probably be denied, which means that a trial will be required in order to resolve the classification issue.  

Pending an outcome on this case, importers of these types of sports sandals should be filing protests to preserve their right to receive refunds in the event that the CIT eventually rules that these sports sandals are "athletic footwear" for purposes of heading 6404.  

If you have any questions with regard to this newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact Stephen Spraitzar at (415) 288-0427 or at, or George R. Tuttle at (415) 288-0425 or at

Stephen Spraitzar and George R. Tuttle are attorneys with the Law Offices of George R. Tuttle in San Francisco. The information in this article is general in nature, and is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship with respect to any event or occurrence, and may not be considered as such.

Copyright 2005 by Tuttle Law Offices.

All rights reserved. Information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by our offices or by others, we do not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and are not responsible for any errors, omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of such information.


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