The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just announced that it will be closing its "Made in USA" investigation of certain Target pillow products. According to the FTC, the outer packaging of the pillow products bore an unqualified "Made in USA" claim while the packages' contents – the pillows themselves – bore a "Made in China" label claim. FTC's investigation began in response to numerous consumer complaints regarding this conflicting origin labeling. In response to the FTC’s investigation, Target agreed to remedy the problem, including removing all affected items from sale, introducing remedial packaging, and, most significantly, agreeing to undertake several longer term "process enhancements" designed to prevent future deceptive "Made in USA" claims.
These longer term enhancements include:
- Assembling a cross functional team of experts to evaluate and analyze a product’s origin attributes;
- Using a new flag in the company packaging system to identify when an unqualified "Made in USA" claim is proposed, so that vendors can insure compliance with FTC "Made in USA" standards;
- Developing new criteria for third party assessments for all unqualified "Made in USA" claims so that such claims can be validated; and
- Commencing a large review of private-label domestic vendors to conduct spot checks for all unqualified "Made in USA" claims.
In view of these significant actions, the FTC opted to close out the matter. As can be seen from this just-released closing letter, the FTC continues to take all "Made in USA" claims very seriously and accord them a high level of enforcement priority. We fully expect this enforcement trend to continue, particularly under the new Presidential Administration, which has clearly and repeatedly identified US manufacturing and the use and sale of American-made products as a top priority.
We invite you to a webinar that focuses on "Made in USA" issues, hosted by Arent Fox LLP on March 15, 2017 at 2pm, in conjunction with FTC’s Julia Solomon Ensor, Esq. Please register for this webinar here.
If you have any questions about the "Made in USA" enforcement trends, or about our upcoming webinar, please contact Georgia Ravitz or Scott Cohn.