General Motors Corporation (GM) has petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to reopen and modify the portion of a 1979 consent order that prohibits GM from labeling the make of a car on the engine unless the division manufacturing the car also manufactures the engine. The petition will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until Aug. 25, after which the Commission will make its decision.
General Motors is based in Detroit, Michigan.
The consent order at issue settled allegations that General Motors engaged in unfair and deceptive practices by, among other things, selling cars with engines and other equipment manufac- tured by a different GM division without informing purchasers. The order prohibited GM from misrepresenting the availability of any standard or optional equipment and required GM to disclose on each car the division name manufacturing the engine. The order also required GM to notify purchasers, through a written dis- closure, that they should carefully examine their new car to see if the car contains the equipment ordered. (GM contends that some of the provisions of the order have expired and the rest will be unaffected by the petition's request to reopen and modify).
In its petition, GM asked the FTC to modify Part III of the order to "permit GM to use its trade names non-deceptively by displaying the name of a GM line-make on any engine which is materially different from engines bearing other line-make names." GM maintains that the present order properly addressed its right to display the names of GM's marketing divisions on the engines of cars sold by those divisions, however, due to changes in its organizational structure relating to manufacturing and marketing, GM's marketing divisions have not been manufacturing engines since 1984. As a result, the line-make name has not appeared on the engine of GM cars since then. GM claims that the proposed modification to the order would preserve the existing order's safeguard against engine "substitution" by continuing to assure that an engine displaying the name of a GM line-make is materially different from engines in cars sold under other line- make names. GM contends that it has demonstrated a satisfactory showing of changes in material fact which warrants the Commission to modify the 1979 order.
GM further states that the modification is necessary because "as modified, Part III would prohibit the labeling of an engine with the name of a GM line-make unless the engine were materially different from the engines in cars sold under other line-make names," however, the modification to the order "does not dilute the protections afforded consumers by the existing Order," but "reduces the competitive advantages enjoyed by GM's competitors in the non-deceptive use of valuable trade names."
Comments on the petition should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580
Copies of GM's petition are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, same address as above; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC Docket No. 2966)