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Published on August 22nd, 2019

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Why the FTC needs a Made in USA Rule

Businesses that can legitimately claim their products are made in USA have a distinct advantage over competitors selling foreign-made goods. Such U.S.-made claims add value to products because consumers perceive American-made goods to be of a higher quality and buying them make consumers feel patriotic. Unsurprisingly then, many companies want to affix an American-made designation to their products. Those who do so deceptively not only reduce the value of made in USA claims, impeding the ability of American-made businesses to compete, but also negatively impact consumers.

Since 1996, the FTC has investigated at least 180 Made in USA marketing campaigns to ensure that products marketed as such are actually made in the United States. (To learn about the FTC’s Made in USA standard, click here.) It appears that the FTC ramped up its efforts to police the patriotic market for made in the U.S. goods about 11 years ago. Since that time, the FTC’s standard approach to companies making deceptive made in America claims has been to issue a closing letter (after the company promises to follow the law) and take no further action.

Since 2009, the FTC has issued closing letters in 93 percent of the cases it has pursued. As for the remaining 7 percent of cases, the FTC has filed administrative actions in 5 percent of the cases and enforcement actions in 2 percent. Every administrative action that the FTC has taken has resulted in a no-fault, no-money settlement. Monetary judgments were awarded in three of the four enforcement cases, with two of the judgments being awarded only after a company violated an earlier FTC consent order. One enforcement action is currently pending.

Based on investigations that TINA.org has undertaken, it is clear that the FTC’s current tactics for policing made in USA claims are not working. The Commission can remedy this problem by initiating a rulemaking process to finalize a formal rule governing the use of made in USA claims. Issuing a formal rule will turn on the FTC’s penalty switch, allowing the commission the option to seek monetary penalties against first-time made in the USA offenders. Such a rule would provide a deterrent effect by changing the risk-benefit analysis of deceptive marketers, thereby increasing the commission’s positive impact on the marketplace.  A rule would also command the respect of violators who flout the FTC’s closing letter admonishments. Furthermore, it would allow the commission to actually punish flagrant offenders. As such, TINA.org has filed a petition with the FTC urging it to take the necessary action to turn on the penalty switch when it comes to deceptive made in the USA claims.

Breakdown of the FTC’s Made in USA Actions by Year:

Year Federal Court Cases Administrative Actions Closing Letters
1996 0 2 0
1997 0 0 0
1998 0 0 0
1999 0 8 0
2000 0 0 0
2001 0 2 0
2002 0 5 0
2003 0 0 0
2004 0 0 0
2005 0 0 0
2006 1 0 0
2007 0 0 0
2008 0 0 0
2009 0 0 1
2010 0 0 1
2011 0 0 3
2012 0 0 8
2013 0 1 11
2014 0 1 15
2015 0 0 28
2016 1 0 28
2017 0 2 22
2018 1 2 21
2019 1 2 16

FTC’s Made in USA actions since 1996:

Company Year Type of Action Status/Outcome If settled, any $ penalty?
Hyde Athletic Industries 1996 Administrative Settled No
New Balance Athletic Shoe 1996 Administrative Settled No
Wire Works and Electrodes Inc 1999 Administrative Settled No
Physicians Formula Cosmetics 1999 Administrative Settled No
American Honda Motor Co 1999 Administrative Settled No
Johnson Worldwide Associates 1999 Administrative Settled No
Kubota Tractor 1999 Administrative Settled No
Rand International Leisure Products 1999 Administrative Settled No
USDrives 1999 Administrative Settled No
Stanley Works 1999 Administrative Settled No
Black & Decker and Kwikset Corp 2001 Administrative Settled No
Jore Corp 2001 Administrative Settled No
A & S Pharmaceutical Corp 2002 Administrative Settled No
Leiner Health Products 2002 Administrative Settled No
LNK International 2002 Administrative Settled No
Perrigo Co 2002 Administrative Settled No
Pharmaceutical Formulations 2002 Administrative Settled No
Stanley Works 2006 Federal Court Settled $205,000
Long John Silver’s 2009 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Ritter Chemical 2010 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Munchkin 2011 Closing Letter No further action n/a
IKEA 2011 Closing Letter No further action n/a
EBI, LLC 2011 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Lucky Brand Dungarees 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Summer Infant 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Seatbelt Solutions 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
SeatBeltsPlus.com 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Beam Industries 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
G&A Investments 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Gilmour Manufacturing Co 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Hawk Enterprises 2012 Closing Letter No further action n/a
PetSmart 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Little Giant Ladders 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Regency Wraps 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
All-Clad Metalcrafters 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Midwest Motion Products 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Dental USA 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
J.K. Adams Co 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
MadeInTheUSA.com 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Action Coupling & Equipment 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
U.S. Coupling & Accessories 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Lava Cable 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
E.K. Ekcessories 2013 Administrative Settled No
Kochek 2013 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Made in the USA Brand, LLC 2014 Administrative Settled No
Windward Design Group 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Burley Clay Products 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Fresh Produce Holdings 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Shinn Fu Co of America 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Spacelabs Healthcare 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
AS America 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Graco 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Rapiscan Systems 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Niagara Industries 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
D’Addario & Co 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Circle Y Saddles 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Karen Kane Inc 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Croakies 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Attwood Corp 2014 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Ariens Co 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Florida Tile 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Aeromotive Inc 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
84 Lumber Co 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Global Syn-Turf 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Office Depot 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Toagoesi America 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Platinum Pets 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Element Electronics 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Military Pet 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Quickie Manufacturing 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Gorilla Glue Co 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
San Antonio Shoe 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
NHS Inc 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
The Coleman Co 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Nordic Ware/Norland Aluminum Products 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Henkel Corp 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Spray Pal 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
OMG, Inc 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Walmart 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Tramontina USA 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Niall Luxury Goods 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
SnugZ USA 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Velocity Holdings 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Associated Equipment Corp 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Weiss Watch Co 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Pro Performance dba HarpArm 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Crimson Trace 2015 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Chemence 2016 Federal Court Settled $220,000
Blount International 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Laser Products Industries 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Ballistic Fabrication 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
American Furniture Manufacturing 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Wright Tool Co 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Winholt Equipment Group 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
P&L Industries dba LaserLyte 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Veilux 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Origin PC 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Peripheral Logix dba Ergoprise 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Leggett & Platt 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Rico Industries 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Wayfair 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
J.W. Manufacturing 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Hexacon Electric Co 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Justin Brands 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Frameware 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Bedrock Manufacturing dba Shinola/Detroit and Filson Holdings 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
MistCooling and Hydrobreeze 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Lotus Computer USA 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Tacony Corp 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Mega Sign 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
TecNiq 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
JL Audio 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Window Design Group 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Commando Lock Co 2016 Closing Letter No further n/a
American Scientific Lighting Corp dba ASL Lighting 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Advanced Air Systems dba Powertank 2016 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Block Division 2017 Administrative Settled No
iSpring Water Systems 2017 Administrative Settled No
Axis LED Group dba Patriot Tube 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
RGF Environment Group 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
New Sensor Corp dba Electro-Harmonix 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Target 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Ratio LLC 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Wilson Electronics 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Suntactics 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
APEC Water Systems 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Versa Products dba VersaTables, VersaDesks, Thrive Furniture, and Vanity Girl Hollywood 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Cardinal Scale Manufacturing 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Innovative Office Products 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Hoshizaki America 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Thales e-Security 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Harimatec 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Excel Industries dba Hustler Turf Equipment and BigDog Mower Co 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Georgia Exposition Manufacturing Corp 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Hyperform dba SeaDek and SwimDek 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Diggers Pool Services 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Watchfire Sign 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Maingear 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
High Technology 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
B/A Products Co 2017 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Bollman Hat Co and SaveAnAmericanJob dba American Made Matters 2018 Administrative Settled No
Redwood Scientific Technologies 2018 Federal Court Pending n/a
Nectar Brand LLC 2018 Administrative Settled No
The Solid Wood Cabinet Co 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
IKEA Purchasing Services 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Prodeco Technologies 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Neutral Posture 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Rainbow Play Systems 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
EBSCO Sign Group 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Saylite dba Mobern Lighting 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Hallmark Cards 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Tradenet Enterprise dba Vantage LED 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Superwinch 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Semyx 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Daktronics 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Williams-Sonoma 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Jantec Sign Group 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Prime-Line Products Co 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
RentACoop 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Gillette 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Eversan 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
KONG Co 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Emotiva Audio 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Electrolux North America 2018 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Sandpiper of California and PiperGear USA 2019 Administrative Settled No
Patriot Puck 2019 Administrative Settled No
iSpring Water Systems 2019 Federal Court Settled $110,000
Whiteside Machine & Repair Co 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
3D Solutech 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Cirrus Systems 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Native Ken Eyewear 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Solve America’s Problems dba TV Liquidator 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Antigravity Batteries 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Norland International dba American Beer Equipment 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
LG Hausys America 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Bragel International dba NuBra 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Systematic Controls dba Valtorc International USA 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
UNEX Corp dba HYTORC 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
American LED Technology 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Golden Brothers dba Golden Technologies 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
CURT Group 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Kenall Manufacturing Co 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a
Linmore LED Labs 2019 Closing Letter No further action n/a

*This chart contains information about the FTC’s actions regarding its “all or virtually all” made in the USA standard. It does not include the agency’s actions regarding any of its other U.S.-origin rules and regulations (e.g. The Textile Rules).

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