March and April were very busy months for the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Consumer Protection staff who focus on “Made in USA” enforcement. Indeed, FTC issued seven “closing letters” to companies during a three-week period, in which FTC closed out its investigations involving allegations that each company “overstated the extent to which” the products in each case were made in the United States. In each case, the FTC closed out the investigation based on the company’s agreement to implement a remedial action plan, including but not limited to such actions as removing unqualified US-origin claims from websites and social media and providing corrected qualified claims to third-party resellers and distributors. This flurry of activity began on March 14, 2017 and ended on April 5, 2017, as follows:
Scott A. Cohn
Scott Cohn has practiced law for more than 28 years in the area of regulatory compliance, with an emphasis on product safety and compliance, product labeling, and advertising and regulation of imported goods.
In the area of product safety and compliance, as regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other federal and state agencies, Scott has experience with the following:
- Product Safety Evaluations, including Laboratory Testing and Failure Analyses
- Hazard/Defect Reporting (Section 15 and 37)
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
- CPSC, investigations, and penalties
- Flammability of apparel and children’s sleepwear, including exemptions for tight-fitting sleepwear
- Children’s products, including toys and games; small parts, sharp edges, heavy metals, lead content (including Proposition 65 in California), toxicity and contamination, etc.
- Drawstring restrictions on apparel
- Household products: candles, lighters, mattresses, cookware, small electronics, etc.
- Furniture products: cribs, chairs, stools, upholstered products, etc.
- Medical devices, cosmetics, and OTC remedies
- Internal compliance reviews and manuals, and development of quality assurance procedures and programs
Scott’s practice also involves product labeling and advertising, as regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other federal and state agencies. In this area he has experience with the following:
- Internet and Catalog Disclosures and Mail Order Rules
- Advertising Substantiation
- Textile, Apparel, Footwear and Luggage labeling
- RN number filings
- Leather labeling
- Care labeling for apparel
- Upholstery and Bedding labeling/tagging as required by individual states
- "Made In USA" labeling rules for all products
- Warranty issues
- Privacy issues for consumers
- Jewelry labeling and advertising
- Organic labeling for food products under US Department of Agriculture/AMS Rules
- Country of origin disclosures as required by Customs and FTC
Additionally, with regard to the regulation of imported goods, as enforced by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other federal and state agencies, Scott’s practice includes experience with the following:
- Tariff Classification, Duty Rates, and Quota Restrictions applicable to all product categories
- Structuring international trade transactions to lawfully minimize duties
- NAFTA and other trade preference programs, such as IFTA, GSP, and AGOA
- Informed compliance and reasonable care evaluations
- Customs compliance audits and internal control manuals
- Valuation of imported goods (transfer pricing, first sale, etc.)
- Country of origin marking
- Trademark and copyright protection and enforcement
- Detentions, seizures, penalties, civil/criminal investigations
- Country of origin verifications
- Labor compliance programs
- Restrictions on artwork and antiquities
- Recordkeeping and record retention
- FDA penalty enforcement actions on imports
- Endangered species issues as enforced by Fish & Wildlife Service
- Importation of fine art and antiquities
- Vendor supply agreements
- Buying agency agreements
- Import/Export enforcement by Office of Foreign Assets Control, Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.
Blog Posts by Scott A. Cohn
On Monday, November 30, 2015, Nordstrom and denim manufacturer AG Adriano Goldschmied filed a motion to approve a settlement in California federal court, agreeing to pay more than $4 million to settle a consumer class action suit that accused them of falsely labeling jeans as “Made in USA.” The settlement was agreed upon in October 2015 after over a year of intense litigation.
Plaintiffs brought the case against both the manufacturer, AG, and the retailer that sold AG jeans, Nordstrom, and alleged various claims under the California consumer protection laws and business and professions code. The class action claimed that AG jeans’ fabric, thread, buttons, rivets, and certain subcomponents of the zipper assembly were manufactured outside of the United States.
ABOUT ARENT FOX LLP
Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.