Dissenting Statement of
Commissioner Roscoe B. Starek, III
In the Matter of
Request for Public Comment in Preparation for Public Workshop Regarding "Made in USA" Claims in Product Advertising and Labeling, Matter No. P894219
For the reasons stated in my dissenting statement in Hyde Athletic Industries, Inc., File No. 922-3236, I oppose spending Commission resources on a broad examination of whether and how to change the Commission's standard for unqualified "Made in USA" claims. Case-by-case enforcement is the appropriate means to evaluate "Made in USA" claims. If consumer perceptions of "Made in USA" claims vary from industry to industry or support some other standard, the most promising way to develop that evidence is by litigating individual cases in which the particular ads at issue are copy tested.(1) The Commission regularly addresses in individual cases complex public policy concerns within the scope of its competition and consumer protection missions, with the benefit of arguments, evidence, and a record on which a fully developed opinion can be based. I find no persuasive reason -- only, perhaps, some miscalculated conception of expediency -- for abandoning case-by-case enforcement in favor of a resource-intensive, unnecessarily broad review more typical of a rulemaking.
As I have stated previously, in order to reduce firms' costs of making "Made in USA" claims in compliance with the law, I support providing guidance on the level of substantiation that the Commission will require for those claims. It is unnecessary and ill-advised, however, to drop enforcement efforts against clear violations of Section 5 of the FTC Act while such guidance is being developed.
(1) The extensive copy testing now planned in preparation for this workshop could provide the Commission with additional evidence of consumer perceptions that may be useful in the assessment of future enforcement actions against a variety of domestic content claims.