WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it has reached a settlement with Made in USA Brand LLC, which the commission charged deceived consumers by allowing brands to purchase a seal claiming their products were made in the U.S., without independently verifying the claim or disclosing that companies had certified themselves.
The FTC said in a complaint that Made in USA Brand LLC charged brands and companies $250 to $2,000 for a one-year license to use the Made in USA certification mark, but “had no procedures in place to determine whether marketers complied with the FTC’s Made in USA standard.”
Some of the company’s licensees using the Made in USA certification seal include lesser-known apparel, footwear and accessories brands, according to a list on its Web site.
The FTC also said the Columbus, Ohio-based certifier never rejected a company’s application for the certification seal or terminated a company’s use of the mark.
“Seals can be very helpful when consumers purchase products based on claims that are difficult to verify — like the Made-in-the-USA claim,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When marketers provide seals without any verification, or without telling consumers the seal is unverified, consumers are deceived and the value of all marketers’ seals is diminished. This case makes it clear that the FTC will not let that happen.”
Under the proposed administrative order, Made in USA Brand LLC is prohibited from claiming that any products or companies meet its certification standard unless it conducts an independent evaluation to determine the origin of the product or discloses on its logo and all promotional materials that companies and products are self-certified.
The commission voted 5-0 to accept the consent agreement package. The proposed consent agreement will now go through a public comment period for 30 days and then must be approved in a final vote by the FTC.