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If your business involves textiles, you’re familiar with the requirements of the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the FTC’s accompanying Rules.  But are you in the loop on changes that take effect today – May 5, 2014 – that could give you more flexibility with compliance?  In addition to reviewing the revised Rules, you’ll want to read the FTC’s updated publication, Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts, to find out more.

Among other things, the Textile Act and Rules require marketers to attach a label to each covered product disclosing:  (1) the generic names and percentages by weight of the product’s fibers; (2) the name or RN number of the manufacturer or other responsible company; and (3) the name of the country where the product was processed or manufactured.  How has the FTC amended those Rules?  Here are a few of the alterations:

Fiber names.  The Rules require that labels identify manufactured fibers using the fiber’s generic names.  The FTC has updated section 303.7 to ease barriers to trade by permitting more internationally-recognized fiber names used in the International Organization for Standardization’s 2010 standard for generic names of man-made fibers.

Hang-tag disclosures.  The FTC revised section 303.17(b) to allow certain hang-tags disclosing fiber names and trademarks and non-deceptive performance information, without having to disclose the product’s full fiber content on the tag.  What about the possibility that info on the hang-tag could mislead consumers?  Unless the hang-tag discloses the product’s full fiber content or the product is entirely made of that fiber, the FTC Rules require the hang-tag to clearly and conspicuously tell potential buyers there’s more to know.  Possible ways to say that:  “This tag does not disclose the product’s full fiber content” or “See label for the product’s full fiber content.”  The Commission has proposed amending the Wool Rules in the same way.

Country of origin.  The Rules require labels to disclose the country where the product was processed or manufactured.  The FTC amended sections 303.33(d) and (f) to clarify that the country where an imported product is processed or manufactured is the country of origin as determined under the laws and regs enforced by Customs.

E-commerce.  The Rules already address e-commerce, but the FTC has clarified them further to reflect that business paperwork often is in electronic form.  Specifically, the FTC amended the definition of the terms “invoice” and “invoice or other paper” in section 303.1(h) to:  1) replace the word “paper” with “document”; 2) state explicitly that those documents can be issued electronically; and 3) allow for the preservation of records in forms other than paper.

Guaranties.  The FTC updated the Rules’ continuing guaranty provisions in sections 303.37 and 303.38 by substituting a certification for the requirement that suppliers provide a guaranty signed under penalty of perjury.  This amendment to section 303.38 on continuing guaranties filed with the FTC automatically amended the Wool and Fur Rules, too, because they incorporate this provision of the Textile Rules.

FTC Enforcement Policy Statement.  Due to changes in the textile industry – for example, increased imports – some businesses can’t get guaranties.  The FTC believes it’s in the public interest to provide protections for retailers that:  (1) can’t legally get a guaranty under the Act; (2) don’t embellish or misrepresent claims made by the manufacturer; and (3) don’t market the products as private-label goods.  But there’s a big caveat to that:  If a retailer knew or should have known the marketing or sale of an item would violate the Textile Act or Rules, those protections won’t apply.  That standard was explained in a January 3, 2013, FTC Enforcement Policy Statement.

Wool Act amendments.  In 2006, Congress amended the Wool Act to include a definition of “cashmere” providing that fibers from the cashmere goat must meet certain criteria to qualify as cashmere.  Otherwise, the fibers must be identified as wool.  Also, the Wool Act now addresses the use of “Super” and “S” numbers to describe very fine wool products.  The Commission has proposed amending the Wool Rules to incorporate these amendments to the Wool Act.

Bookmark Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts and the FTC's special Clothing and Textiles portal for easy reference as questions arise.



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