In March, the Federal Trade Commission issued three closing letters, all related to "made in USA" claims. The FTC says that, when making unqualified "made in USA" claims about a product, marketers must substantiate that the product was "all or virtually all" made in the United States. (For more information about the FTC's "made in USA" standards, check out the FTC's Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims.)
On March 17th, the FTC closed an investigation into Aqua Marine Deck, Inc. The FTC expressed concerns that marketing materials with broad, unqualified claims that Aqua Marine products are made in the United States may have failed to account for the fact that certain of the Company’s marine decking products contain significant foreign content.
On March 19th, the FTC closed an investigation into whether the J-B Weld Company's marketing materials may have overstated the extent to which its products were made in the United States, since some of its products either incorporate significant imported content or are wholly imported. The most interesting part of this letter, however, was the fact that the FTC clarified that it does not generally consider where the product packaging is made when determining whether a product was made in the United States. (More more information about this letter, check out our blog post here.)
On March 26th, the FTC closed an investigation into Therm-Omega-Tech, Inc. -- also known as The BBQ Guru. The FTC expressed concerns that The BBQ Guru promoted its grilling thermometers and other products as made in the United States, even though some of its products contain significant foreign content. As part of its remedial action plan to avoid deceiving consumers, the company took a variety of steps, including fixing claims on its social media accounts, updating claims on third party sales platforms such as Amazon and Walmart, removing claims from product packaging, including by stickering over unqualified claims until new packaging could be obtained, and training customer service representatives on how to address country-of-origin questions from customers.
"unqualified U.S.-origin claims in marketing materials – including claims that products are 'Made,' 'Built,' or 'Manufactured' in the USA – likely suggest to consumers that all products advertised in those materials are 'all or virtually all' made in the United States"