FTC Approves Final Settlement Regarding Deceptive “Made in USA” Claims
First announced in January 2018, the FTC’s complaint against Bollman Hat Company and its wholly-owned subsidiary, SaveAnAmericanJob, LLC, alleges that Bollman and its subsidiary deceived consumers with “Made in USA” claims for Bollman hats and third-party products. According to the complaint, Bollman and its subsidiary marketed hats with claims such as “American Made Matters,” “Choose American,” and “Made in USA since 1868.” The FTC alleges that more than 70 percent of their hat styles are wholly imported as finished products. Of the remaining styles, many contain significant imported content, according to the complaint.
The FTC also alleges that Bollman and its subsidiary made deceptive claims through a U.S.-origin seal they introduced in 2010, known as “American Made Matters.” In addition to using the “American Made Matters” seal to market their own products, Bollman and its subsidiary licensed the seal to any company claiming to have a U.S.-based manufacturing factory or one product with a U.S.-origin label, and meeting several membership requirements, including self-certifying that at least 50% of the cost of at least one of their products was incurred in the United States, with final assembly or transformation in the U.S., and paying an annual licensing fee of $99, according to the complaint.
The Commission has an Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims, and other business guidance on how companies can comply with the Made in the USA standard. The FTC’s Made in the USA page features cases, instructive closing letters, and the brochure Complying with the Made in USA Standard, which answers many of the questions companies ask.
Consult with an experienced Internet marketing and advertising compliance law attorney regarding the implementation of preventative protocols, or if your company is the subject of regulatory action.
Richard B. Newman is an Internet marketing compliance and regulatory defense attorney at Hinch Newman LLP focusing on advertising and digital media matters. His practice includes conducting legal compliance reviews of advertising campaigns, representing clients in investigations and enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General, commercial litigation, advising clients on promotional marketing programs, and negotiating and drafting legal agreements.
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