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FTC Finalizes Amendments to Textile Labeling Rules

In an effort to give businesses more flexibility in meeting federal compliance requirements without being saddled with onerous obligations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been revising the existing Textile Labeling Rules. To this end, the agency has announced new amendments that were published in the Federal Register on April 4 and will go into effect on May 5.

The new rules promise to have a significant impact on the textile and apparel industry, including retail e-commerce. They are designed to allow more financial documents to be legally transmitted electronically by reclassifying the terms “invoice” and “invoice or other paper,” expediting the speed at which business can be concluded.

Other than the changes to e-commerce, the new amendments primarily address disclosure regarding fiber content and country-of-origin classifications. According to a fact sheet published by the FTC, these include amendments that would:

  • incorporate the updated International Organization for Standardization standard establishing generic fiber names for manufactured fibers;
  • allow certain hang-tags disclosing fiber names and trademarks, and performance information, without the need to disclose the product’s full fiber content;
  • clarify that an imported product’s country of origin is the country where it was processed or manufactured, as determined under laws and regulations enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
  • better address electronic commerce with revised definitions of “invoice” and “invoice or other paper,”
  • replace the requirement that guarantors sign continuing guarantees under penalty of perjury with a requirement that they acknowledge that providing a false guaranty is unlawful, and certify that they will actively monitor and ensure compliance with the applicable law; and
  • clarify the provision identifying textile fiber product categories and products that are exempt from the Act’s requirements.

The Textile Product Fiber Identification Act (TFPIA) requires that “certain textiles sold in the United States carry labels disclosing the generic names and percentages by weight of the fibers in the product, the manufacturer or marketer name, and the country where the product was processed or manufactured.”

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In May 2013, the FTC publicly proposed these changes in the hopes of soliciting feedback from all interested parties. Reportedly, it received a considerable response and, after carefully reflecting on all of them, finally settled on the final language of the amendments. On the basis of the feedback, the FTC ditched a rule it had proposed to make continuing guarantees expire after one year, unless they are explicitly revoked earlier. Now, guarantees may be revoked but do not automatically expire.