Commission Denies Petition Regarding Use of Term "Cultured" to Describe Laboratory-created Gemstones; Commission Approves Federal Register Notice Regarding Fees to Access the National Do Not Call Registry

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Commission denial of petition from jewelry industry trade associations - The Commission has denied a petition submitted by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) and 10 other jewelry industry trade associations requesting that the FTC amend the Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries (Guides), 16 C.F.R. Part 23. As detailed in the petition, the trade groups sought an amendment to the Guides stating that it is deceptive or unfair to use the term "cultured" to describe laboratory-created gemstones, even when the man-made gemstones possess essentially the same optical, chemical, and physical properties of natural, mined gemstones. According to the petitioners, using "cultured" to describe such diamonds is either deceptive or unfair. The current Guides do not address whether the term "cultured" can be used to describe laboratory-created gemstones. Although the Guides do advise marketers to use specific qualifying language to make clear that the gemstones are created in a laboratory.

After reviewing the petition and the consumer perception surveys on which it relies, the Commission has declined to amend the Guides to state that it would be unfair or deceptive to use the term "cultured" to describe gemstones created in a laboratory. The Commission concluded that there is insufficient evidence to establish that the qualified use of the term "cultured diamonds" is deceptive or unfair. The Commission explained that even if the surveys demonstrate that the unqualified use of the term "cultured" to describe laboratory-created gemstones is misleading, there is no evidence to suggest that the use of the qualifying language set forth in the Guides fails to render the term non-deceptive. The Commission concludes that its staff will continue to evaluate advertising using the term "cultured diamonds" on a case-by-case basis and recommend enforcement action when appropriate

A copy of the Commission's letter to the petitioners, the Petition and a submission from a laboratory-created diamond manufacturer in response to the Petition, can be found on the FTC's Web site as a link to this press release. The Commission vote denying the petition was 4-0. (FTC File No. G711001; the staff contact is Robin Rosen Spector, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3740.)

Commission approval of Federal Register notice - The Commission has approved the publication of a Federal Register notice amending the Telemarketing Sales Rule by updating the fees charged to entities accessing the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. As detailed in the notice, the Do-Not-Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007 (Fee Extension Act) sets out a new fee structure for the DNC Registry, beginning in fiscal year 2009. The Act requires entities accessing the Registry to pay $54 per area code of data, up to a maximum of $14,850. It also specifies that for each additional area code, the FTC shall charge $54 if the request is made during the first six months of the requester's annual period, and $27 if it is made during the second six months of this period. The Act also expands the definition of "exempt" organizations to include any entity allowed, but not required, to access the Registry under any federal regulation.

To comply with the Fee Extension Act, the Commission is reducing the fees entities required to access the Registry must pay from the current $62 per area code, up to a maximum of $17,050, to the statutory $54 per area code, up to a maximum of $14,850, beginning in fiscal year 2009. Annual subscriptions to the Registry bought before October 1, 2008 will be subject to the current fees and those bought after that date will be subject to the new, lower fees. Entities accessing the Registry will still receive the first five area codes free and exempt organizations will still be able to access the entire Registry at no cost.

The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register notice was 4-0. It will be published soon and is available now as a link to this press release on the FTC's Web site. (FTC File No. P03405; the staff contact is Kelly A. Horne, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3031.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

(FYI 37.2008.wpd)

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