A Guide for businesses that make "Made In USA" claims was released today by the staff of the Federal Trade Commission. The business publication, "Complying With the Made in USA Standard," will help ensure that advertising or marketing claims that a product is of U.S. origin are not false or misleading. The business guide describes the principles of the FTC’s law and policy statements governing such claims and uses examples to help businesses comply with the law. It also offers some general information about the U.S. Customs Service’s requirements for when products of foreign origin imported into the United States must be marked with the name of the country of origin.
"When consumers see 'Made in USA' on a product, they depend on it to mean just that," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "This publication will help businesses understand what’s required to make a bona fide Made in America claim, and give consumers confidence that what they see is what they get. We will continue to monitor 'Made in USA' claims to make sure they are not false or misleading."
One year ago, after a two-year long comprehensive review of "Made in USA" and other domestic origin claims, the Commission determined to retain its traditional "all or virtually all" standard and issued an Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims. Under the "all or virtually all" standard, voluntary, unqualified U.S. origin claims must be substantiated by evidence that a product is "all or virtually all" made in the United States. The Enforcement Policy Statement provides guidance to marketers who want to make an unqualified "Made in USA" claim under the "all or virtually all" standard and those who want to make a qualified "Made in USA" claim. The business guide will provide additional guidance to marketers about how to comply with the "all or virtually all" standard, the staff said.
Throughout 1998, FTC staff has provided advice to businesses about proposed marketing and advertising claims through informal oral advice and has given speeches at industry conferences. The "Complying With the Made in USA Standard" publication incorporates some of the questions staff has received about the standard. In addition to covering when an unqualified claim can properly be made, it provides a number of examples about how to make a qualified "Made in USA" claim for a product that includes U.S. content or processing but does not meet the criteria for an unqualified "Made in USA" claim.
The publication also should help to resolve uncertainty about the interaction between the FTC and Customs regarding country-of-origin claims. The publication underscores that even if Customs determines that an imported product does not need a foreign country-of-origin mark, it is not necessarily permissible to promote that product as "Made in USA." The FTC will consider additional factors to decide whether a product can be advertised, labeled, or otherwise promoted as "Made in USA." The Guide also explains that the FTC has jurisdiction over foreign origin claims on products and in packaging that are beyond the disclosures required by Customs and over foreign origin claims in advertising and other promotional materials.
Copies of the business publication, Complying With the Made in USA Standard, are available from the FTC’s web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.