A court in the US has ruled that certain items worn for American football should be classified as apparel, rather than sports equipment, for import duty purposes.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled last week that certain football jerseys, pants and girdles – designed to be worn with protective pads, but not containing them – must be considered as apparel.

The ruling upheld the Court of International Trade’s previous classification of pants as liable to 14.9% duty, and jerseys as liable to 32% duty.

It also declared that girdles should more appropriately be liable to 14.9% duty, dismissing the plaintiff’s arguments that the items should be treated on a duty-free basis.

The ruling of the court said the items could not meet duty-free requirements because, although they were designed to be worn with padding, they did not come bundled with them, leaving the padding as entirely separate items.

“The fact that these items have a specialised use does not make them lose their character as articles of apparel, which also prevents them from being classified as parts or accessories of sports equipment,” the court said.