FTC Announces Enforcement Policy Statement for Retailers that Directly Import Textile, Wool, and Fur Products

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission today announced an Enforcement Policy Statement regarding the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, the Wool Products Labeling Act, and the Fur Products Labeling Act concerning treatment of certain retailers that directly import textile, wool, and fur products.

The Textile, Wool and Fur Acts allow retailers to avoid liability for mislabelling or false advertising if they rely in good faith on a “guaranty” from a U.S. supplier that certifies that products the supplier provides are not mislabelled, falsely invoiced, or falsely advertised.  Because the statutes provide that retailers may obtain guaranties only from a “person residing in the United States,” they may not obtain a guaranty for directly imported textile, wool, and fur products.  Based on its enforcement experience, the Commission finds it in the public interest to provide greater consistency for retailers regardless of whether they directly import products or use third-party domestic importers.

The Policy Statement provides that the Commission will not initiate an enforcement action for falsely marketing a textile, wool, or fur product if the retailer:  (1) cannot legally obtain a continuing or separate guaranty; (2) does not embellish or misrepresent claims the manufacturer provides; and (3) does not market the product as a private label product.  This policy does not apply, however, if the retailer knew or should have known that the marketing claim was false.  This policy thus balances the importance of treating fairly retailers who directly import goods with the Commission’s responsibility to enforce the Textile, Wool and Fur Acts and Rules. 

The proposed consent decrees in the bamboo cases that the Commission announces today contain a proviso that reflects this Policy Statement.

The Commission vote approving the Enforcement Policy Statement was 5-0.

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