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FTC Blocks Made in the USA Brand, LLC From Deceptive Labeling

The Federal Trade Commission announced on Tuesday that Made in the USA Brand, LLC, which provides a “Made in USA” certification seal to marketers, has agreed to drop its certification claims.

The FTC reported that the Columbus, Ohio-based company deceived consumers by allowing companies to use the seal without verifying U.S. production, or disclosing that the companies had certified themselves.

The company charged $250 to $2,000 for a one-year license to use the seal, however, it did not independently evaluate the products before certifying them, and had no procedures to determine whether it complied with the FTC’s Made in USA standard.

The FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S.-Origin Claims states that products advertised or labeled as “Made in the USA” must be “all or virtually all” made in the United States.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “Seals can be very helpful when consumers purchase products based on claims that are difficult to verify–like the Made-in-the-USA claim.” She added, “When marketers provide seals without any verification, or without telling consumers the seal is unverified, consumers are deceived and the value of all marketers’ seals is diminished. This case makes it clear that the FTC will not let that happen.”

Under the proposed agreement, Made in the USA Brand, LLC is prohibited from claiming that any products or companies meet its certification standard unless it either conducts an independent and objective evaluation, or discloses on its logo, and all its promotional materials, that companies and products are self-certified. It is also restricted from claiming that any product is made in the USA, or in any other country, unless the claim is supported by competent and reliable evidence.

The FTC accepted the agreement in a 5-0 vote and it will be subject to public comment for 30 days until Aug. 22, 2014, after which the commission will decide whether to finalize the proposed consent order.

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