February 1999Whether its a coat, cape, jacket, stole or parka... if you manufacture, import or sell fur garments, you must comply with the labeling requirements under the Fur Products Labeling Act (FPLA). Garment labels give consumers important purchasing information. Consumers assume this information is accurate and truthful. When its not either through an innocent or deliberate act their trust in your business is damaged. The likely result for you? A tarnished reputation and bottom-line.
The Federal Trade Commission wants to help you comply with the FPLA and its rules and regulations under the FPLA (16 C.F.R. Part 301). You can find these rules at www.ftc.gov.
The Guide at Section 301.0 of the rules lists the animals whose fur could be used in a garment. However, simply because a name is on the list does not necessarily make it legal to sell that fur in the U.S. For example, some animals on the list may be endangered species and the sale of their fur prohibited. The Guide is designed to prevent deception that is, calling a fur something other than what it is. At this time, federal law does not prohibit the use of dog and cat fur on items sold in this country. However, California criminal law prohibits importing or selling dog and cat fur in that state.
It is illegal to label a fur with the name of any animal other than the animal that produced the fur, and to use coined or fictitious animal names. For example, it is against the law to label dog fur as "Asiatic raccoon" or "corsac fox," or cat fur as "wild cat" or "mountain cat."
The adjective form of the country of origin of the fur may but doesnt have to precede the animal name (for example, "Russian Mink").
Even if the adjective form of the country name is used with the animal name, the origin must be stated separately, preceded by the words "Fur Origin" (for example, "Fur Origin: Russia").
The country of origin of the garment made from fur may be different than the country of origin of the fur itself. Imported garments must be marked in accordance with the marking statute, 19 U.S.C. § 1304, enforced by the U.S. Customs Service. For details, see the Customs web site at www.customs.treas.gov.
You may label domestic fur products to show origin, but the law doesnt require it. Domestic furs also may be labeled to show the particular state or part of the country they came from. A name that connotes a false geographic origin cannot be used, and domestic furs cannot be labeled or advertised in a way that implies they are imported. If the name of the animal, as listed in the Fur Products Name Guide, includes a geographic designation, but the animal was raised or taken in the U.S., the origin should be stated to prevent possible deception (for example, "Mexican Raccoon; Fur Origin: U.S.")
If these treatments dont apply, the fur should be labeled "natural."
For example, on a wool coat with fur trim, the label must disclose the wool content as required by the Wool Act and Rules. You can find the text of these rules and the publication, Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts.
The content of a fur coat lining must be disclosed if the lining provides added warmth. If the lining serves only a structural purpose, its fiber does not have to be disclosed. If the lining contains any wool, the fiber content must be disclosed.
Mechanics of Labeling
The name or RN of the manufacturer or dealer may precede or follow the above.
Invoices and Advertising
If the cost to a manufacturer of fur trim used on a garment (not including the cost of adding the trim to the product) or a manufacturers selling price of a fur product is $150 or less, the product is exempt from the statute and rules.
The exemption does not apply if:
In addition, if any representations about the fur are made in labeling, invoicing, or advertising, you must disclose the name of the animal, whether the fur is artificially colored and whether the fur is composed of pieces.
Therefore, a product that meets the $150 exemption criteria cannot be called fur, animal fur or genuine fur without disclosures about the animal name, any artificial coloring process, and the use of fur pieces or waste. The exemption still would apply to the other Fur Rule requirements, such as the label size, and the disclosure of fur origin. Compliance with the Textile or Wool Rules labeling requirements would be necessary for other parts of the garment.
The manufacturer of an exempt fur product must keep records showing the cost of the fur. If the manufacturers selling price of the product is more than $150, and the exemption applies because the original cost of the fur to the manufacturer was $150 or less, the invoice must state that the fur is exempt from the Fur Act and Rules (for example, "FPL EXEMPT").
Manufacturers and dealers must keep records showing the required information for at least three years.
Enforcement of the Fur Act
Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retail sellers are responsible for complying with fur labeling requirements and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties for selling mislabeled products. A violation of the FPLA, or the Commissions rules under the Act, is considered an unfair method of competition and an unfair and deceptive act or practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The Commission may issue an administrative order prohibiting the conduct that violates the Act. Violators of an administrative order are subject to monetary civil penalties of up to $11,000 for each violation. Each instance of mislabeling is considered a separate violation. Criminal proceedings can be brought against willful violators of the FPLA.
The U.S. Customs Service also can impose marking duties, liquidated damages, or seize improperly labeled imported items.
Sellers may protect themselves by asking their U.S. supplier of fur products for a guaranty of compliance with the FPLA and Fur Rules. Continuing guaranties of compliance also can be filed with the FTC. See sections 301.47-.48 of the Fur Rules for more information about guaranties.
For More Information
If you have questions about the Textile, Wool and Fur Acts and Rules, contact:
You also may visit us at www.ftc.gov on the Web. Click on Business Guidance for information about complying with the Textile, Wool and Fur Acts and Rules. Or contact the FTCs Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (382-4357); TDD: 202-326-2502, for your copy.
Your Opportunity To Comment
The Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and 10 Regional Fairness Boards collect comments from small business about federal enforcement actions. Each year, the Ombudsman evaluates enforcement activities and rates each agencys responsiveness to small business. To comment on FTC actions, call 1-888-734-3247.
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