FTC Orders Apparel Company to Pay Six-Figure Fine for False Made-in-USA Claims

10 Aug

I hating see articles like this. There are many, many options in our industry for Made in the USA, apparel, caps, print, and other promotional items.

FTC Orders Apparel Company to Pay Six-Figure Fine for False Made-in-USA Claims {from ASI August 8. 2022}

The Federal Trade Commission is also making Lions Not Sheep, which sells right wing-themed printed clothing and accessories, notify customers that its products were imported from China and other countries. By Christopher Ruvo

A Utah-based company that sells conservative-themed printed apparel falsely claimed that its clothing was Made in the USA and now must pay a six-figure fine and notify customers that it lied about the where its products were produced.

Lions Not Sheep and its owner, Sean Whalen, must pay $211,335 for removing clothing tags and replacing them with phony Made in USA labels, according to a recently finalized order from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

FTC building

The case is a potential cautionary tale for companies in the promotional products/apparel-decorating industry that want to make Made in USA claims about items they sell.

Beyond paying the fine, Whalen and Lions Not Sheep must stop making bogus Made in USA claims and come clean about products being produced in China and other countries.

As part of that, Whalen/Lions Not Sheep must notify customers by mail or email that the products they purchased were not actually produced in the United States. Particularly, the FTC ordered that Whalen and co. tell clients in writing that the FTC has “sued us for making false claims” and that “although we screen(print) or embroider products in the USA, many of the items we sell are imported.”

Lions Not Sheep sells its own line of decorated T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and sweaters on its website, as well as through Amazon and Etsy.

The company markets its products heavily through social media channels. Graphics and themes in the messaging – including anti-Joe Biden sentiments – cater to a right-wing audience. Owner Whalen is also an author, founder of business networking app Meetrz, business coach and speaker. His Instagram page has around 281,000 followers.

Authorities said that Lion Not Sheep’s Made in USA claims online and on product labels included: “Made in the USA,” “Made in America,” “Are your products USA Made?” “100% AMERICAN MADE,” and “BEST DAMN AMERICAN MADE GEAR ON THE PLANET.”

In most cases, the FTC said, the products advertised with these claims were wholly imported shirts and hats with limited finishing work performed in the United States.

Companies cannot claim that products are made in the United States unless they can show that the product’s final assembly or processing – and all significant processing – takes place here and that all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced here.

Companies can make qualified Made in USA claims, but they must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients or components, or processing.

Also, to claim that a product is assembled in the United States, companies must ensure that it is last-substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and U.S. assembly operations are substantial. Promo products pros should note that in April the FTC started enforcing new rules related to claims that a product is American-made.

If you are interested in Made in the USA products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

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