Puck maker and outdoor gear sellers will have to qualify their claims 

He Imports, He Scores!

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) recently took aim at several companies for made-in-the-USA claims. The first complaint, against one George Statler III, the head of four New York-based companies doing business as Patriot Puck, claims that the defendant made a series of false origin claims in his advertising. The Commission claims that while Patriot Puck deployed tag lines like “Proudly Made in the USA,” “100% American Made!” and “The Only American Made Hockey Puck!” the companies’ wares were wholly manufactured outside the United States – in China, to be specific. The complaint alleges that Patriot imported more than 400,000 pucks from overseas during the past two years.

Tag, You’re Not It

The second complaint was brought against SandPiper of California and PiperGear USA, companies that together manufacture and sell travel bags, backpacks and other gear. The FTC alleges that despite several claims advanced by the companies, including made-in-the-USA marketing slogans, hashtags and logos, between 80 percent and 95 percent of the companies’ products were imported as finished goods or contained “significant imported components.” In one bold instance, the Commission claims, the companies hid “Made in Mexico” origin markers on the backs of fabric tags in wallets while cards claiming a U.S. origin were inserted into the product. The settlement orders agreed to by both Statler and the SandPiper companies forbid the companies from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims about their products in the future, unless they can prove that all of the final assembly of the goods takes place in the United States, or that the product components were “made and sourced” here.

The Takeaway

Many consumers are persuaded by made-in-the-USA claims, which is likely why the FTC continues to treat them as an enforcement priority. Companies intending to make such claims should carefully review these settlements and other FTC guidance regarding qualified and unqualified made-in-the-USA claims.