The Federal Trade Commission has formally proposed to repeal its Leather Belt Rule, because the agency plans to replace the rule and other FTC regulations pertaining to individual leather products with consolidated guidelines for the marketing of a variety of leather and imitation leather products. This is a part of the FTC's overall effort to review all of its guidelines and rules and to rescind those that are obsolete or no longer useful. Written comments and requests to testify with regard to the proposed repeal are due in 30 days, by April 5.
The FTC promulgated the Leather Belt Rule in 1964 to curb misrepresentations about the leather content of belts. It prohibits false claims about the content, and requires disclosures about the type of leather certain belts are composed of, as well as disclosures that non-leather belts that appear to be leather are not.
In September 1995, the Commission published a notice in the Federal Register stating that it had tentatively determined the rule was no longer necessary in light of its plan to rescind its guidelines for the marketing of shoes, luggage and handbags and replace them with consolidated guides for select leather and imitation leather products. After reviewing the comments on that notice, the Commission has determined that nearly all the benefits of the Leather Belt Rule would be retained by including leather belts in the consolidated guides. Thus, the Commission is now formally proposing repeal of the rule. (The Commission's call for comment on its proposed consolidated leather products guidelines closed Nov. 15, 1995.) Unlike rules, however, which have the force of law, guidelines simply are administrative interpretations that offer industry guidance in complying with the law. Conduct inconsistent with such guidelines, therefore, will not justify imposition of civil penalties.
The Commission is using expedited rulemaking procedures in this proceeding, and will hold an informal hearing only if requested by interested parties.
Comments should be identified as "16 CFR Part 405 -- Leather Belt Rule" and addressed to the FTC, Room H-159, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
The Commission vote to publish a Federal Register notice announcing the proposed repeal was 5-0.
Copies of the Federal Register notice and the rule are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY 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. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC Matter No. R511037)