The Federal Trade Commission recently closed an investigation into whether 3D Solutech's marketing materials may have overstated the extent to which its three-dimensional printer filaments are made in the United States. The FTC alleged that, although certain filaments are made from U.S.-sourced raw materials, in many instances the raw materials undergo significant processing overseas in order to become finished filaments.
In order to make unqualified "made in USA" claims about a product, the FTC says that the product must be "all or virtually all" made in the United States. The FTC's Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims provides detailed guidance about how to determine whether a product is "all or virtually all" made here.
In closing its investigation, the FTC emphasized that using raw materials from the U.S. is not enough. The FTC wrote, "regardless of the extent of a product's other U.S. parts or processing, in order to be considered all or virtually all made in the United States, it is a prerequisite that the product have been last 'substantially transformed' in the United States."
The FTC acknowledged, however, that if the company employs workers in the United States, sources raw materials in the U.S., or designs its products in the U.S., it is appropriate for the company to promote that fact -- so long as the company's marketing does not overstate the extent to which the company's products are made here.
In order to address the FTC's concerns, 3D Solutech implemented a remedial action plan to avoid deceiving consumers, which included revisions and updates to product packaging, the company's website, and its social media accounts. Interestingly, because most of the company's sales are through Amazon, the company's remedial efforts focused on making changes on that platform, which included making batch updates and listing-specific changes to product narratives, specifications, photographs, and listing titles.
"Unqualified 'Made in USA' claims on marketing materials likely suggest to consumers that all products advertised in those materials are 'all or virtually all' made in the United States"