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Published on July 22nd, 2014

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Made in the USA? Come again?

Put this in the “trust but verify” department. An Ohio-based company that sells licenses for use of its Made in the USA certification mark has not been verifying that the actual products with the labels, well, are made in the U.S.A., according to a complaint by the FTC settled Tuesday.

The company, Made in the USA Brand, LLC, claimed in promotional materials:

 The Made in the USA Brand Certification Mark provides a standard symbol for Made in the USA product identification. When printed on labels by accredited manufacturers, consumers are able to identify at a glance which products are made in the USA.

In fact, the FTC alleged that the company handed over the seal to anyone who paid it for the licenses, which cost between $250-$2,000, and self-certified that their products met the FTC U.S. origin claims, which require that “all or virtually all” of the item must be made here.  The complaint also challenged whether the companies promoted on the USA Brand site sold products that were really made in the U.S.

Under the settlement, the company, which neither admitted nor denied any of the allegations in the complaint, agreed to either clearly and prominently disclose on its logo and all of its promotional materials that the Made in the USA seal is based solely on self-certification by the company that bought the license or independently and objectively evaluate the product to make sure it meets the standard before selling the license for the certification mark.

It also agreed to stop authorizing the display of the certification mark unless USA Brand itself independently and objectively evaluated the product for compliance.

The FTC can’t possibly verify every product that claims to be made in the USA, so when you see that label, you may want to exercise caution before handing over any green cash for supposed red, white and blue products. More information on Made in the USA claims can be found here.

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