Analysis of Proposed Consent Order
The Federal Trade Commission has accepted an agreement, subject to final approval, to a proposed consent order from respondent Kubota Tractor Corporation.
The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for sixty (60) days for reception of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After sixty (60) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement and take other appropriate action or make final the agreements proposed order.
This matter concerns advertising, labeling and promotional practices related to the sale of lawn tractors and lawn and garden tractors. The Commissions complaint charges that respondent misrepresented that certain of its lawn tractors or lawn and garden tractors were all or virtually all made in the United States when, in truth and in fact, these products had significant foreign parts. In addition, the complaint charges that respondent misrepresented that entire product lines of lawn tractors and lawn and garden tractors were all or virtually all made in the United States. In truth and in fact, in one product line, one of the three lawn tractor models in the product line contained significant foreign parts; in a second product line, both of the lawn and garden tractor models in that line contained significant foreign parts.
The proposed consent order contains a provision that is designed to remedy the charges and to prevent the respondent from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I of the proposed order prohibits the respondent from misrepresenting the extent to which a lawn tractor or lawn and garden tractor, or entire product line of lawn tractors or lawn and garden tractors, is made in the United States. The proposed consent order defines the terms "lawn tractor" and "lawn and garden tractor" as products manufactured, labeled, advertised, promoted, offered for sale, sold, or distributed primarily for consumers to mow grass, including but not limited to respondents T-Series lawn tractors and TG- Series lawn and garden tractors. It states that such products may be sold with or without attachments such as grass catchers, front blades, or snowblowers. The proposed order would allow respondent to represent that any lawn tractor or lawn and garden tractor, or lawn tractor or lawn and garden tractor product line, is made in the United States so long as all, or virtually all, of the component parts of such product, or of all products in such product line, are made in the United States and all, or virtually all, of the labor in manufacturing such product, or of all products in such product line, is performed in the United States.
Part II of the proposed order requires the respondent to maintain materials relied upon in disseminating any representation covered by the order. Part III of the proposed order requires the respondent to distribute copies of the order to certain company officials and employees. Part IV of the proposed order requires the respondent to notify the Commission of any change in the corporation that may affect compliance obligations under the order. Part V of the proposed order requires the respondent to file one or more compliance reports. Part VI of the proposed order is a provision whereby the order, absent certain circumstances, terminates twenty years from the date of issuance.
The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed consent order. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way their terms.