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The Federal Trade Commission has tentatively proposed to repeal a rule requiring disclosures in advertising and on packaging for certain binoculars that are not fully prismatic. The FTC, as part of its continuing review of its trade regulation rules, is seeking public comments on the proposal to rescind the rule for 30 days. All comments must be filed by June 22.

The Binocular Rule, adopted by the Commission in 1964, requires a clear and conspicuous disclosure in any advertising and on packaging for non-prismatic or partially prismatic binoculars that the instruments are not fully prismatic. (Fully prismatic binoculars rely on a prism within the instrument to reverse the visual image entering the lens so that it appears right-side up to the user. Other binoculars rely partly or entirely on mirrors to reverse the visual image.)

The FTC established the rule to address concerns that consumers could be misled into believing that non-prismatic binoculars were in fact prismatic, absent such a disclosure. Under the rule, non-prismatic instruments can be identified as binoculars only if they incorporate descriptive terms such as, "binocular -- non-prismatic," "binocular -- mirror-prismatic," or "binocular -- non-prismatic mirror."

In particular, the FTC is seeking comments on the following five questions:

  • Is any manufacturer currently producing non-prismatic or partially-prismatic binoculars?

  • Is any individual or business entity currently marketing non-prismatic or partially-prismatic binoculars?

  • Do any retail stores or suppliers still maintain stocks of non-prismatic or partially-prismatic binoculars?

  • What benefits do consumers derive from the rule? 5) Should the rule be kept in effect or should it be repealed?

The public is invited to comment on any issues or concerns they believe are relevant to the Commission's review of the Binocular Rule. Comments should be identified as "16 CFR Part 402" and addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

The Commission vote to publish the notice of this proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register was 5-0. The notice appears in today's Federal Register.

Copies of the Binocular Rule, along with the Federal Register notice asking for public comment are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.


(FTC File No. P924214)