The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that it closed two more investigations into whether companies made false and misleading claims that their products were made in the United States.
In one case, the FTC expressed concerns that Native Ken Eyewear overstated the extent to which its glasses were made here. The FTC said that the company didn't comply with the FTC's "all or virtually all" standard because although the products are designed in the United States, the company sources its frames overseas.
When closing "Made in USA" investigations, the FTC reports on the remedial action the company took to prevent consumer deception. The kinds of things that the companies do to address the FTC's concerns often provide interesting insight into what the FTC may view as the scope of an advertiser's responsibilities for false advertising claims. Here, in order to address the FTC's concerns, the company removed all claims that its products were "made" or "built" in the United States, including "hashtagged claims on social media platforms." So, if there was any doubt about whether a hashtag could be considered to be an advertising claim, the FTC seems to suggest pretty clearly here that it can.
In a separate investigation into Cirrus Systems, the FTC expressed concerns about the company's "Made in Maine" claims, because although Cirrus assembles certain LED displays in Maine, the products incorporate significant imported content. This case is a great reminder that the FTC's "Made in USA" standard applies to other related claims as well, such as that a product is made in a particular state in the U.S. As it has in many of these investigations, the FTC indicated that, while it is fine to promote the fact that the company built a factory, employs workers, or performs certain processes in the United States, Cirrus shouldn't overstate the extent to which its products are made here.
"Unqualified U.S.-origin claims in marketing materials -- including claims that products are 'Made' or 'Built' in the USA -- likely suggest to consumers that all products advertised in those materials are 'all or virtually all' made in the United States"