The FTC unanimously agreed to an enforcement action against American textile manufacturer Electrowarmth Products, LLC and the company’s owner for deceptively marketing its heated “bunk warmer” mattress pads products as Made in the USA. According to the FTC’s complaint, Electrowarmth’s products, while marked as being domestically made, were wholly manufactured and packaged in China, thus violating the Textile Act and the FTC’s Textile Rule. While the proposed settlement agreement contains an $815,000 monetary judgment, payment of the redress amount is suspended upon the defendants’ inability to pay.
Electrowarmth is an Ohio-based company that sells electrically-heated mattress pads. Although the company makes mattress pads for various uses, the pads that are the subject of the FTC’s complaint were made and marketed specifically for semi-truck bunk mattresses. Electrowarmth historically manufactured its products in the United States, but, according to the FTC, in 2019 moved production to China. Despite the move, the company continued to claim that its products were American-made.
In an interesting point, the FTC’s complaint alleges that Electrowarmth “instructed the Chinese manufacturer to make and package Electrowarmth’s products ‘exactly the same’ as they were previously manufactured in the United States.” Even if the products were actually made “exactly the same” as they were in the US, however, Electrowarmth still broke the law: Electrowarmth passed off its products as made in the USA when they were not. This was illegal whether the foreign products are worse, the same, or even better than the American-made predecessors.
Moreover, the “Made in the USA” claims that brought the FTC’s attention were not limited to product packaging. Rather, the FTC’s complaint specifically calls out an Electrowarmth social media page for saying its products are “Made in the USA since 1939,” and a tradeshow flier for claims the products are “Made in USA.”
This is yet another example of the FTC’s continued and vigorous enforcement against false and deceptive “Made in the USA” claims; the case against Electrowarmth is one of several similar cases brought by the FTC this year, which we’ve covered here and here. It’s clear that the Commission is serious about this issue, so companies would be wise to ensure that claims that products are made in the USA are true, whether those claims are made on labeling, packaging, in advertising, or other materials.