UPDATE: Recent jeans case confirms harsher “Made In USA” standards exist in California

blue_jeans.jpg

A California federal district court judge recently provided some clarity on the apparent disparity between California’s “Made in the USA” law and the standard set forth by the Federal Trade Commission.

 

[by Lauren Shoor | October 30, 2014 | Consumer Products Law Blog]

The Southern District Court of California’s recent decision in Paz v. AG Adriano Goldschmied confirms that California’s “Made in the USA” standard sets forth more stringent requirements than the FTC standard.

In Paz the plaintiff filed a class action complaint against AG Adriano Goldschmied and retailer Nordstrom, alleging that AG falsely labeled its jeans “Made in USA.” The plaintiff alleged that AG’s jeans actually contained fabric, thread, buttons, rivets, and/or certain subcomponents of the zipper manufactured outside of the United States. The plaintiff alleged he relied on the “Made in USA” representation when purchasing the jeans.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act preempted plaintiff’s claims.   The FTC standard permits “Made in the USA” labels when “all or virtually all” of the product is made in the US.  The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act requires identifying the country of origin of textile fiber products.

Acknowledging that the laws set out different standards, the court noted that the federal standard allows for a “Made in the USA” label “even if the product includes or contains material from a foreign country,” while the California standard does not allow such a label “unless the product and all articles, units, or parts thereof were ‘entirely or substantially made, manufactured, or produced’ in the United States.” However, the court held that the FTC Act does not preempt the California standard because it is possible to comply with both laws. Although “burdensome” the court suggested defendants could use different labels for products sold in California and outside California.

The court also disagreed with defendants’ argument that the FTC Act gave the FTC exclusive authority over “Made in the USA” claims. The court explained that Congress’s delegation of “that authority to the FTC is not the same as depriving other agencies or states from exercising that same authority.”

The court similarly held that the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act does not preempt the California standard because defendants could comply with both laws. The court explained that the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act requires the jeans be labeled “Made in USA of imported fabric,” and rejected defendants’ claim that such qualified claims are prohibited by the California law.

It is possible that the defendants may ultimately appeal this ruling, but in the interim, this ruling provides further guidance to the industry on complying with California’s “Made in the USA” standard.

Reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • commented 2014-12-04 21:15:31 -0500
    Regarding the “Made In USA” label, just tonight I sent this email to the Editor of SolarPowerWorld, informing them of false “made in USA” advertising they ran:

    Dear Kathie Zipp,

    Did you know that SolarPowerWorld published false advertising from Solectria on the back cover of your November 2014 “Top 100+ Products of 2014” issue?

    The attached picture of that ad says “Made In USA” and includes on the list of products 2 lines of inverters -the 1Ph Transformerless Inverters (3.8 – 7.6kW) and the 3Ph Transformerless Inverters (14 – 28 kWh)- both series which, last time I asked Solectria, they admitted are imported.

    The 2 emails forwarded below substantiate my complaint.

    It is very troubling to us that companies are marketing imported inverters as “made in USA.” Our company spends a lot of effort researching where products come from so that we can guarantee to our customers that our installations are indeed “made in USA.” This hurts our business due to cheap import competition, but we do it for our country.

    Perhaps in an upcoming issue your magazine could offer a feature on the state of solar manufacturing in our country? Considering the ongoing decline of American manufacturing and the chronic huge merchandise trade deficits (averaging over $700 billion per year), we hope any patriotic trade publication would help installers and consumers find the products that actually build American prosperity rather than offshore it.

    Thanks, —Will Wilkin.

    PS: We wish Solectria the best in their American manufacturing and have just sold a system that will include 2 Solectria inverters that ARE made in USA (a 100kW and a 50kW). But we also wish they would start telling the truth in their advertising that says “made in USA” and features imports. Surely your magazine wants your ads to be true?

    Will Wilkin
    Co-Owner-Operator

    Made In USA Solar, LLC
  • commented 2014-12-01 15:25:19 -0500
    Nice article