FTC Approves Final Consent Settling Charges that Bollman Hat Company Made Deceptive ‘Made in USA’ and Certification Claims
Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order settling charges that Pennsylvania-based Bollman Hat Company has agreed to stop deceptive use of its “American Made Matters” certification and marketing materials.
First announced in January 2018, the FTC’s complaint against Bollman Hat Company and its wholly-owned subsidiary, SaveAnAmericanJob, LLC, alleges that Bollman and its subsidiary deceived consumers with “Made in USA” claims for Bollman hats and third-party products. According to the complaint, Bollman and its subsidiary marketed hats with claims such as “American Made Matters,” “Choose American,” and “Made in USA since 1868.” In fact, more than 70 percent of their hat styles are wholly imported as finished products. Of the remaining styles, many contain significant imported content, according to the complaint.
The FTC also alleges that Bollman and its subsidiary made deceptive claims through a U.S.-origin seal they introduced in 2010, known as “American Made Matters.” In addition to using the “American Made Matters” seal to market their own products, Bollman and its subsidiary licensed the seal to any company claiming to have a U.S.-based manufacturing factory or one product with a U.S.-origin label, and meeting several membership requirements, including self-certifying that at least 50% of the cost of at least one of their products was incurred in the United States, with final assembly or transformation in the U.S., and paying an annual licensing fee of $99, according to the complaint.
The Commission has an Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims, and other business guidance on how companies can comply with the Made in the USA standard. The FTC’s Made in the USA page features cases, instructive closing letters, and the brochure Complying with the Made in USA Standard, which answers many of the questions companies ask.
The Commission vote to approve the final order in this case was 2-0. (FTC File No. 172 3197; the staff contact is Julia Solomon Ensor, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2377.)