Here at the Law Office of Vincent Miletti, Esq. and the home of the #UnusuallyMotivated movement, we take pride as a resilient and dependable legal services firm, providing such services in both a traditional and online, web-based environment. With mastered specialization in areas such as Employment and Labor Law, Intellectual Property (I.P.) (trademark, copyright, patent), Entertainment Law, and e-Commerce (Supply Chain, Distribution, Fulfillment, Standard Legal & Regulatory), we provide a range of legal services including, but not limited to traditional legal representation (litigation, mediation, arbitration, opinion letters, and advisory), non-litigated business legal representation and legal counsel, and unique, online legal services such as smart forms, mobile training, and legal marketing and development.
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As the authoritative force in Employment Law, we are thrilled to continue creating content-filled videos that cover diverse areas of Labor Law to educate and deliver in a sense that only Miletti Law® can. In this regard, this blog introduces you to yet another training video titled “All You Need To Know About “Made In U.S.A.” So, why is it important to know this? For starters, it is most likely that you have used a good or product labeled “Made in U.S.A.” at one time or the other. Hoping that you have always had a sense of pride when using a product or good purported to be of domestic origin, have you ever asked yourself what the idea behind someone labeling a good or product with “Made in U.S.A.” is or even whether it was actually of U.S. origin? Through this video, we aim to provide you, as a consumer or businessperson, with (1) key information you need to know about such labeling of goods and products, (2) how such labeling is regulated under the law, and (3) the statutory body responsible for such regulation.
For starters, the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.) is responsible for regulating the labeling of goods and products in the U.S. Essentially, while promoting consumer protection and enforcing civil U.S. antitrust law comprise the agency’s principal mission, the F.T.C. determines the veracity of an individual’s claim that a certain product or good is made in U.S.A. These regulations are enforced pursuant to 15 U.S. Code § 45a, which is known as “labels on products” under the F.T.C. In addition to controlling how products or goods with a “Made in U.S.A.” label are introduced, delivered for introduction, offered for sale in commerce, advertised, or even sold, the statute also bars individuals from using unfair and deceptive trade practices that may impact the consumer or other traders negatively.
It has been a while since the amendment, change, or modification of the statute because the regulations emanate from policies dating back to 1997, 1998, and 1999. One specific regulation is known as the F.T.C. enforcement policy statement on U.S. origin claims and dates back to December 1997. Another one is a compliance guide known as the “Compliance with “Made in U.S.A. Standard” and dates back to December 1998. A complete guide and information regarding these regulations and policies can be found on the F.T.C. website and is accessible in the public domain.
Moving away from the policies and regulations, let us dive right into the legal stuff we are good at and ask ourselves, “What constitutes a “Made in U.S.A.” claim?” To start with, a “Made in U.S.A.” claim can be either implied or express.
On the one hand, while it is easily identifiable, an express claim entails a situation where a manufacturer makes affirmative statements and labels their products as manufactured in U.S.A., made in U.S.A., American made, proudly made in U.S.A., or American quality, among others. Generally, the express claim can be either a qualified or unqualified made in U.S.A. claim on a given product. Firstly, a qualified Made in U.S.A. claim describes the type, amount, or extent of a product’s domestic content or processing, which indicates that such a product is not entirely of domestic origin. For example, a product may be labeled as “50% U.S. content” or “Car assembled in U.S.A. from imported and U.S. car parts.” Secondly, when it comes to unqualified Made in U.S.A. claims, the manufacturer must be able to should that “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. As per the F.T.C. enforcement policy statement mentioned earlier, the U.S. includes all 50 American states, the District of Columbia, and all other U.S. possessions and territories.
On the other hand, implied claims emanate from statements or advertisements that, without the product or good being expressly labeled, imply U.S. origin. For instance, a product may have a picture of the American flag, a map of the U.S., or the name of an American state on it.
From a legal point of view, you could make a qualified made in U.S.A. claim; you just need to prove it based on a number of aspects such as the origin of the contents or part. However, going for the unqualified made in U.S.A. claim is a lot risker and involves a lot of technical difficulties. This is because the F.T.C. has to review every aspect of the product or good in question, including, but not limited to, where it was assembled, the percentage/proportion of the manufacturing or processing cost, and the amount or extent of foreign/imported content.
Arguably, to point to take home is that true disclosure is the best way to protect yourself from government sanctions on your product or good. Always make sure that your label is conspicuous and consistent in font, feel, and look. No one would want the label on their product filled with F.T.C. and government-issued warnings and statements because this would attract fines and penalties. Another thing to note is that although there is nothing on record books, each state handles “state” claims in its own capacity. However, as always, there is California, and there are 49 states. That said, California has its Made in California program, which is part of the State government of California’s code section 12098.10 et seq., but is almost similar to the Made in U.S.A. program. Wait, with no ill intent, we advise you against going the California way. It is a disaster!
Please, feel free to view our video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBARyRLBIyE. As we continue hammering on new and exciting stuff daily, stay tuned for more educative videos, inspiring training, & legal advice. In the interim, if there are any questions or comments, please let us know at the Contact Us page!
Always rising above the bar,
Legal Writer & Author.