In January of this year, the FTC announced its complaint against the Bollman Hat Company and its wholly-owned subsidiary, SaveAnAmericanJob, LLC, for allegedly violating its policy on “Made in the USA” claims. Bollman and its subsidiary, which sells hats under the Bollman, Bailey Western, Betmar, Country Gentleman, Eddy Bros., Helen Kaminski, Jacaru, Kaminski XY, Kangol, Karen Kane, Pantropic, and other private label brand names, market their hats with such claims as “American Made Matters,” “Choose American,” and “Made in USA since 1868.”
However, according to the FTC, more than 70% of their hat styles were in fact imported as finished products, and the remaining styles contained “significant” imported content, in violation of FTC requirements for marketing products as “Made in the USA.” Furthermore, Bollman and its subsidiary improperly licensed their “American Made Matters” seal to various companies whose products also failed to meet FTC standards. The FTC recently approved a final consent order settling the charges against Bollman and SaveAnAmericanJob, which prohibits all deceptive use of their “American Made Matters” certification and marketing materials and enjoins them from providing others the means to make similar deceptive country of origin claims. This is the third case involving deceptive “Made in the USA” claims that the FTC has brought in the last year.
Takeaway: The FTC offers specific business guidance on how to comply with the “Made in the USA” standard, deviation from which may land manufacturers and advertisers in legal hot water. The FTC’s “Made in the USA” page is available here.