When a company settles a case with the FTC, it’s not just water under the bridge. An FTC administrative order includes provisions designed to prevent similar deceptive or unfair practices in the future – and violations of those orders may result in civil penalties. The FTC just announced a proposed settlement with Georgia-based iSpring Water Systems for violating a 2017 order related to the company’s Made in USA claims. The case offers a reminder to other companies to make sure their own Made in USA representations are water-tight.
iSpring sells filtration systems on its own site and through major online retailers. In 2017, the FTC alleged the company’s “Proudly Built in the USA” claims were false. “Proudly Built”? Maybe so, but not in the USA. According to the complaint, many of iSpring’s products were either wholly imported or made with a significant number of parts from overseas.
To settle the 2017 case, the company agreed not to make unqualified Made in USA claims unless it could show the product’s final assembly or processing – and all significant processing – takes place in the United States, and that all or virtually all components are made and sourced here.
Fast forward a year and the company started to promote the filtration systems it sells as “designed and crafted in USA.” But according to the FTC, that claim was false, too, and in violation of the order because many of the products iSpring advertised with that designation were wholly imported. To settle that order enforcement action, iSpring and two corporate officers will pay a $110,000 civil penalty and will have to notify affected consumers about their deceptive Made in USA representations.
Looking for advice on keeping your Made in USA promises afloat? Read the FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims and consult resources on the Made in USA page.