ENFORCEMENT POLICY STATEMENT
U.S. ORIGIN CLAIMS
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC" or "Commission") is issuing this statement to provide guidance regarding its enforcement policy with respect to the use of "Made in USA" and other U.S. origin claims in advertising and labeling. The Commission has determined, as explained below, that unqualified U.S. origin claims should be substantiated by evidence that the product is all or virtually all made in the United States. This statement is intended to elaborate on principles set out in individual cases and advisory opinions previously issued over the course of many years by the Commission. This statement, furthermore, is the culmination of a comprehensive process in which the Commission has reviewed its standard for evaluating U.S. origin claims. Throughout this process, the Commission has solicited, and received, substantial public input on relevant issues. The Commission anticipates that from time to time, it may be in the public interest to solicit further public comment on these issues and to assess whether the views expressed in this statement continue to be appropriate and reflect consumer perception and opinion, and to determine whether there are areas on which the Commission could provide additional guidance.
The principles set forth in this enforcement policy statement apply to U.S. origin claims included in labeling, advertising, other promotional materials, and all other forms of marketing, including marketing through digital or electronic means such as the Internet or electronic mail. The statement, moreover, articulates the Commission's enforcement policy with respect to U.S. origin claims for all products advertised or sold in the United States, with the exception of those products specifically subject to the country-of-origin labeling requirements of the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act,(1) the Wool Products Labeling Act,(2) or the Fur Products Labeling Act.(3) With respect to automobiles or other passenger motor vehicles, nothing in this enforcement policy statement is intended to affect or alter a marketer's obligation to comply with the requirements of the American Automobile Labeling Act(4) or regulations issued pursuant thereto, and any representation required by that Act to appear on automobile labeling will not be considered a deceptive act or practice for purposes of this enforcement policy statement, regardless of whether the representation appears in labeling, advertising or in other promotional material. Claims about the U.S. origin of passenger motor vehicles other than those representations required by the American Automobile Labeling Act, however, will be governed by the principles set forth in this statement.
Both the FTC and the U.S. Customs Service have
responsibilities related to the use of country-of-origin claims. While the FTC regulates
claims of U.S. origin under its general authority to act against deceptive acts and
practices, foreign-origin markings on products (e.g., "Made in Japan")
are regulated primarily by the U.S. Customs Service ("Customs" or "the
Customs Service") under the Tariff Act of 1930. Specifically, Section 304 of the
Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. § 1304, administered by the Secretary of the Treasury and the
Customs Service, requires that all products of foreign origin imported into the United
States be marked with the name of a foreign country of origin. Where an imported product
incorporates materials and/or processing from more than one country, Customs considers the
country of origin to be the last country in which a "substantial transformation"
took place. A substantial transformation is a manufacturing or other process that results
in a new and different article of commerce, having a new name, character and use that is
different from that which existed prior to the processing. Country-of-origin
determinations using the substantial transformation test are made on a case-by-case basis
through administrative determinations by the Customs Service.(5)
The FTC also has jurisdiction over foreign origin claims
in packaging insofar as they go beyond the disclosures required by the Customs Service (e.g.,
claims that supplement a required foreign origin marking, so as to represent where
additional processing or finishing of a product occurred). In addition, the Commission has
jurisdiction over foreign-origin claims in advertising, which the U.S. Customs Service
does not regulate.
Where Customs determines that a good is not of foreign
origin (i.e., the good undergoes its last substantial transformation in the
United States), there is generally no requirement that it be marked with any country of
origin. For most goods, neither the Customs Service nor the FTC requires that goods made
partially or wholly in the United States be labeled with "Made in USA" or any
other indication of U.S. origin.(6) The fact that a product
is not required to be marked with a foreign country of origin does not mean that it is
permissible to promote that product as "Made in USA." The FTC will consider
additional factors, beyond those considered by the Customs Service in determining whether
a product is of foreign origin, in determining whether a product may properly be
represented as "Made in USA."
This statement is intended to address only those issues
related to U.S. origin claims. In developing appropriate country-of-origin
labeling for their products, marketers are urged also to consult the U.S. Customs
Service's marking regulations.
III. INTERPRETING U.S. ORIGIN
THE FTC'S DECEPTION ANALYSIS
The Commission's authority to regulate U.S. origin claims
derives from Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act"), 15
U.S.C. § 45, which prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." The
Commission has set forth its interpretations of its Section 5 authority in its Deception
Policy Statement,(7) and its Policy Statement Regarding
Advertising Substantiation Doctrine.(8) As set out in the
Deception Policy Statement, the Commission will find an advertisement or label deceptive
under Section 5, and therefore unlawful, if it contains a representation or omission of
fact that is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances, and
that representation or omission is material. In addition, objective claims carry with them
the implication that they are supported by valid evidence. It is deceptive, therefore, to
make a claim unless, at the time the claim is made, the marketer possesses and relies upon
a reasonable basis substantiating the claim. Thus, a "Made in USA" claim, like
any other objective advertising claim, must be truthful and substantiated.
A representation may be made by either express or implied
claims. "Made in USA" and "Our products are American made" would be
examples of express U.S. origin claims. In identifying implied claims, the Commission
focuses on the overall net impression of an advertisement, label, or other promotional
material. This requires an examination of both the representation and the overall context,
including the juxtaposition of phrases and images, and the nature of the transaction.
Depending on the context, U.S. symbols or geographic references, such as U.S. flags,
outlines of U.S. maps, or references to U.S. locations of headquarters or factories, may,
by themselves or in conjunction with other phrases or images, convey a claim of U.S.
origin. For example, assume that a company advertises its product in an advertisement that
features pictures of employees at work at what is identified as the company's U.S.
factory, these pictures are superimposed on an image of a U.S. flag, and the advertisement
bears the headline "American Quality." Although there is no express
representation that the company's product is "Made in USA," the net impression
of the advertisement is likely to convey to consumers a claim that the product is of U.S.
Whether any particular symbol or phrase, including an
American flag, conveys an implied U.S. origin claim, will depend upon the circumstances in
which the symbol or phrase is used. Ordinarily, however, the Commission will not consider
a marketer's use of an American brand name(9) or trademark,(10) without more, to constitute a U.S. origin claim, even
though some consumers may believe, in some cases mistakenly, that a product made by a
U.S.-based manufacturer is made in the United States. Similarly, the mere listing of a
company's U.S. address on a package label, in a nonprominent manner, such as would be
required under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act,(11) is
unlikely, without more, to constitute a "Made in USA" claim.
IV. SUBSTANTIATING U.S. ORIGIN
THE "ALL OR VIRTUALLY ALL" STANDARD
Based on its review of the traditional use of the term
"Made in USA," and the record as a whole, the Commission concludes that
consumers are likely to understand an unqualified U.S. origin claim to mean that the
advertised product is "all or virtually all" made in the United States.
Therefore, when a marketer makes an unqualified claim that a product is "Made in
USA," it should, at the time the representation is made, possess and rely upon a
reasonable basis that the product is in fact all or virtually all made in the United
A product that is all or virtually all made in the United
States will ordinarily be one in which all significant parts(14)
and processing that go into the product are of U.S. origin. In other words, where a
product is labeled or otherwise advertised with an unqualified "Made in USA"
claim, it should contain only a de minimis, or negligible, amount of foreign
content. Although there is no single "bright line" to establish when a product
is or is not "all or virtually all" made in the United States, there are a
number of factors that the Commission will look to in making this determination. To begin
with, in order for a product to be considered "all or virtually all" made in the
United States, the final assembly or processing of the product must take place in the
United States. Beyond this minimum threshold, the Commission will consider other factors,
including but not limited to the portion of the product's total manufacturing costs that
are attributable to U.S. parts and processing; and how far removed from the finished
product any foreign content is.
A. Site of Final Assembly or Processing
The consumer perception evidence available to the
Commission indicates that the country in which a product is put together or completed is
highly significant to consumers in evaluating where the product is "made." Thus,
regardless of the extent of a product's other U.S. parts or processing, in order to be
considered all or virtually all made in the United States, it is a prerequisite that the
product have been last "substantially transformed" in the United States, as that
term is used by the U.S. Customs Service -- i.e., the product should not be
required to be marked "made in [foreign country]" under 19 U.S.C. § 1304.(15) Furthermore, even where a product is last substantially
transformed in the United States, if the product is thereafter assembled or processed
(beyond de minimis finishing processes) outside the United States, the Commission
is unlikely to consider that product to be all or virtually all made in the United States.
For example, were a product to be manufactured primarily in the United States (and last
substantially transformed there) but sent to Canada or Mexico for final assembly, any U.S.
origin claim should be qualified to disclose the assembly that took place outside the
B. Proportion of U.S. Manufacturing Costs
Assuming the product is put together or otherwise
completed in the United States, the Commission will also examine the percentage of the
total cost of manufacturing the product that is attributable to U.S. costs (i.e.,
U.S. parts and processing) and to foreign costs.(16) Where
the percentage of foreign content is very low, of course, it is more likely that the
Commission will consider the product all or virtually all made in the United States.
Nonetheless, there is not a fixed point for all products at which they suddenly become
"all or virtually all" made in the United States. Rather, the Commission will
conduct this inquiry on a case-by-case basis, balancing the proportion of U.S.
manufacturing costs along with the other factors discussed herein, and taking into account
the nature of the product and consumers' expectations in determining whether an
enforcement action is warranted. Where, for example, a product has an extremely high
amount of U.S. content, any potential deception resulting from an unqualified "Made
in USA" claim is likely to be very limited, and therefore the costs of bringing an
enforcement action challenging such a claim are likely to substantially outweigh any
benefit that might accrue to consumers and competition.
C. Remoteness of Foreign Content
Finally, in evaluating whether any foreign content is
significant enough to prevent a product from being considered all or virtually all made in
the United States, the Commission will look not only to the percentage of the cost of the
product that the foreign content represents, but will also consider how far removed from
the finished product the foreign content is. As a general rule, in determining the
percentage of U.S. content in its product, a marketer should look far enough back in the
manufacturing process that a reasonable marketer would expect that it had accounted for
any significant foreign content. In other words, a manufacturer who buys a component from
a U.S. supplier, which component is in turn made up of other parts or materials, may not
simply assume that the component is 100% U.S. made, but should inquire of the supplier as
to the percentage of U.S. content in the component.(17)
Foreign content that is incorporated further back in the manufacturing process, however,
will often be less significant to consumers than that which constitutes a direct input
into the finished product. For example, in the context of a complex product, such as a
computer, it is likely to be insignificant that imported steel is used in making one part
of a single component (e.g., the frame of the floppy drive). This is because the
steel in such a case is likely to constitute a very small portion of the total cost of the
computer, and because consumers purchasing a computer are likely, if they are concerned
about the origin of the product, to be concerned with the origin of the more immediate
inputs (floppy drive, hard drive, CPU, keyboard, etc.) and perhaps the parts that, in
turn, make up those inputs. Consumers are less likely to have in mind materials, such as
the steel, that are several steps back in the manufacturing process. By contrast, in the
context of a product such as a pipe or a wrench for which steel constitutes a more direct
and significant input, the fact that the steel is imported is likely to be a significant
factor in evaluating whether the finished product is all or virtually all made in the
United States. Thus, in some circumstances, there may be inputs one or two steps back in
the manufacturing process that are foreign and there may be other foreign inputs that are
much further back in the manufacturing process. Those foreign inputs far removed from the
finished product, if not significant, are unlikely to be as important to consumers and
change the nature of what otherwise would be considered a domestic product.
In this analysis, raw materials(18)
are neither automatically included nor automatically excluded in the evaluation of whether
a product is all or virtually all made in the United States. Instead, whether a product
whose other parts and processing are of U.S. origin would not be considered all or
virtually all made in the United States because the product incorporated imported raw
materials depends (as would be the case with any other input) on what percentage of the
cost of the product the raw materials constitute and how far removed from the finished
product the raw materials are.(19) Thus, were the gold in a
gold ring, or the clay used to make a ceramic tile, imported, an unqualified "Made in
USA" claim for the ring or tile would likely be inappropriate.(20)
This is both because of the significant value the gold and the clay are likely to
represent relative to the finished product and because the gold and the clay are only one
step back from the finished articles and are integral components of those articles. By
contrast, were the plastic in the plastic case of a clock radio that was otherwise all or
virtually all made in the United States found to have been made from imported petroleum,
the petroleum is far enough removed from, and an insignificant enough input into, the
finished product that it would nonetheless likely be appropriate to label the clock radio
with an unqualified U.S. origin claim.
V. QUALIFYING U.S. ORIGIN CLAIMS
A. Qualified U.S. Origin Claims Generally
Where a product is not all or virtually all made in the
United States, any claim of U.S. origin should be adequately qualified to avoid consumer
deception about the presence or amount of foreign content. In order to be effective, any
qualifications or disclosures should be sufficiently clear, prominent, and understandable
to prevent deception. Clarity of language, prominence of type size and style, proximity to
the claim being qualified, and an absence of contrary claims that could undercut the
effectiveness of the qualification, will maximize the likelihood that the qualifications
and disclosures are appropriately clear and prominent.
Within these guidelines, the form the qualified claim
takes is up to the marketer. A marketer may make any qualified claim about the U.S.
content of its products as long as the claim is truthful and substantiated. Qualified
claims, for example, may be general, indicating simply the existence of unspecified
foreign content (e.g., "Made in USA of U.S. and imported parts") or
they may be specific, indicating the amount of U.S. content (e.g., "60% U.S.
content"), the parts or materials that are imported (e.g., "Made in USA
from imported leather"), or the particular foreign country from which the parts come
("Made in USA from French components").(21)
Where a qualified claim takes the form of a general U.S.
origin claim accompanied by qualifying information about foreign content (e.g., "Made
in USA of U.S. and imported parts" or "Manufactured in U.S. with Indonesian
materials"), the Commission believes that consumers are likely to understand such a
claim to mean that, whatever foreign materials or parts the product contains, the last
assembly, processing, or finishing of the product occurred in the United States. Marketers
therefore should avoid using such claims unless they can substantiate that this is the
case for their products. In particular, such claims should only be made where the product
was last substantially transformed in the United States. Where a product was last
substantially transformed abroad, and is therefore required by the U.S. Customs Service to
be labeled "Made in [foreign country]," it would be inappropriate, and
confusing, to use a claim such as "Made in USA of U.S. and imported parts."(22)
B. Claims about Specific Processes or Parts
Regardless of whether a product as a whole is all or
virtually all made in the United States, a marketer may make a claim that a particular
manufacturing or other process was performed in the United States, or that a particular
part was manufactured in the United States, provided that the claim is truthful and
substantiated and that reasonable consumers would understand the claim to refer to a
specific process or part and not to the general manufacture of the product. This category
would include claims such as that a product is "designed" or "painted"
or "written" in the United States or that a specific part, e.g., the
picture tube in a television, is made in the United States (even if the other parts of the
television are not). Although such claims do not expressly disclose that the products
contain foreign content, the Commission believes that they are normally likely to be
specific enough so as not to convey a general claim of U.S. origin. More general terms,
however, such as that a product is, for example, "produced,"or
"manufactured" in the United States, are likely to require further qualification
where they are used to describe a product that is not all or virtually all made in the
United States. Such terms are unlikely to convey to consumers a message limited to a
particular process performed, or part manufactured, in the United States. Rather, they are
likely to be understood by consumers as synonymous with "Made in USA" and
therefore as unqualified U.S. origin claims.
The Commission further concludes that, in many instances,
it will be appropriate for marketers to label or advertise a product as "Assembled in
the United States" without further qualification. Because "assembly"
potentially describes a wide range of processes, however, from simple,
"screwdriver" operations at the very end of the manufacturing process to the
construction of a complex, finished item from basic materials, the use of this term may,
in some circumstances, be confusing or misleading to consumers. To avoid possible
deception, "Assembled in USA" claims should be limited to those instances where
the product has undergone its principal assembly in the United States and that assembly is
substantial. In addition, a product should be last substantially transformed in the United
States to properly use an "Assembled in USA" claim. This requirement ensures
against potentially contradictory claims, i.e., a product claiming to be
"Assembled in USA" while simultaneously being marked as "Made in [foreign
country]." In many instances, this requirement will also be a minimum guarantee that
the U.S. assembly operations are substantial.
C. Comparative Claims
U.S. origin claims that contain a comparative statement (e.g.,
"More U.S. content than our competitor") may be made as long as the claims
are truthful and substantiated. Where this is so, the Commission believes that comparative
U.S. origin claims are unlikely to be deceptive even where an unqualified U.S. origin
claim would be inappropriate. Comparative claims, however, should be presented in a manner
that makes the basis for the comparison clear (e.g., whether the comparison is
being made to another leading brand or to a previous version of the same product).
Moreover, comparative claims should not be used in a manner that, directly or by
implication, exaggerates the amount of U.S. content in the product, and should be based on
a meaningful difference in U.S. content between the compared products. Thus, a comparative
U.S. origin claim is likely to be deceptive if it is made for a product that does not have
a significant amount of U.S. content or does not have significantly more U.S. content than
the product to which it is being compared.
D. U.S. Customs Rules and Qualified and
Comparative U.S. Origin Claims
It is possible, in some circumstances, for marketers to
make certain qualified or comparative U.S. origin claims (including claims such as that
the product contains a particular amount of U.S. content, certain claims about the U.S.
origin of specific processes or parts, and certain comparative claims) even for products
that are last substantially transformed abroad and which therefore must be marked with a
foreign country of origin. In making such claims, however, marketers are advised to take
care to follow the requirements set forth by the U.S. Customs Service and to ensure, for
purposes of Section 5 of the FTC Act, that the claim does not deceptively suggest that the
product is made with a greater amount of U.S. parts or processing than is in fact the
In looking at the interaction between the requirements for
qualified and comparative U.S. origin claims and those for foreign origin marking, the
analysis is slightly different for advertising and for labeling. This is a result of the
fact that the Tariff Act requires foreign origin markings on articles or their containers,
but does not govern claims in advertising or other promotional materials.
Thus, on a product label, where the Tariff Act requires
that the product be marked with a foreign country of origin, Customs regulations permit
indications of U.S. origin only when the foreign country of origin appears in close
proximity and is at least of comparable size.(23) As a
result, under Customs regulations, a product may, for example, be properly marked
"Made in Switzerland, finished in U.S." or "Made in France with U.S.
parts," but it may not simply be labeled "Finished in U.S." or "Made
with U.S. parts" if it is deemed to be of foreign origin.
In advertising or other promotional materials, the Tariff
Act does not require that foreign origin be indicated. The Commission recognizes that it
may be possible to make a U.S. origin claim in advertising or promotional materials that
is sufficiently specific or limited that it does not require an accompanying statement of
foreign manufacture in order to avoid conveying a broader and unsubstantiated meaning to
consumers. Whether a nominally specific or limited claim will in fact be interpreted by
consumers in a limited matter is likely to depend on the connotations of the particular
representation being made (e.g., "finished" may be perceived as having
a more general meaning than "painted") and the context in which it appears.
Marketers who wish to make U.S. origin claims in advertising or other promotional
materials without an express disclosure of foreign manufacture for products that are
required by Customs to be marked with a foreign country of origin should be aware that
consumers may believe the literal U.S. origin statement is implying a broader meaning and
a larger amount of U.S. content than expressly represented. Marketers are required to
substantiate implied, as well express, material claims that consumers acting reasonably in
the circumstances take from the representations. Therefore, the Commission encourages
marketers, where a foreign-origin marking is required by Customs on the product itself, to
include in any qualified or comparative U.S. origin claim a clear, conspicuous, and
understandable disclosure of foreign manufacture.
15 U.S.C. § 70.
15 U.S.C. § 68.
15 U.S.C. § 69.
49 U.S.C. § 32304.
For goods from NAFTA
countries, determinations are codified in "tariff shift" regulations. 19 C.F.R.
For a limited number of goods,
such as textile, wool, and fur products, there are, however, statutory requirements
that the U.S. processing or manufacturing that occurred be disclosed. See, e.g.,
Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, 15 U.S.C. § 70(b).
Letter from the Commission to
the Honorable John D. Dingell, Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House
of Representatives (Oct. 14, 1983); reprinted in Cliffdale Associates, Inc., 103
F.T.C. 110, appendix (1984).
49 Fed. Reg. 30,999 (1984); reprinted
in Thompson Medical Co., 104 F.T.C. 648, appendix (1984).
This assumes that the brand
name does not specifically denote U.S. origin, e.g., the brand name is not
"Made in America, Inc."
For example, a legal
trademark consisting of, or incorporating, a stylized mark suggestive of a U.S. flag
will not, by itself, be considered to constitute a U.S. origin claim.
15 U.S.C. § 1451 et seq.
For purposes of this
Enforcement Policy Statement, "United States" refers to the several states, the
District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the United States. In other
words, an unqualified "Made in USA" claim may be made for a product that is all
or virtually all manufactured in U.S. territories or possessions as well as in the 50
In addition, marketers should
not represent, either expressly or by implication, that a whole product line is of
U.S. origin (e.g., "Our products are Made in USA") when only some
products in the product line are, in fact, made in the United States. Although not the
focus of this Enforcement Policy Statement, this is a principle that has been addressed in
Commission cases both within and outside the U.S. origin context. See, e.g., Hyde
Athletic Industries, FTC Docket No. C-3695 (consent order December 4, 1996)
(complaint alleged that respondent represented that all of its footwear was made in the
United States, when a substantial amount of its footwear was made wholly in foreign
countries); New Balance Athletic Shoes, Inc., FTC Docket No. 9268 (consent order
December 2, 1996) (same); Uno Restaurant Corp., FTC Docket No. C-3730 (consent
order April 4, 1997) (complaint alleged that restaurant chain represented that its whole
line of thin crust pizzas were low fat, when only two of eight pizzas met acceptable
limits for low fat claims); Häagen-Dazs Company, Inc., FTC Docket No. C-3582
(consent order June 7, 1995) (complaint alleged that respondent represented that its
entire line of frozen yogurt was 98% fat free when only certain flavors were 98% fat
The word "parts" is
used in its general sense throughout this enforcement policy statement to refer to all
physical inputs into a product, including but not limited to subassemblies, components,
parts, or materials.
It is conceivable, for
example, that occasionally a product imported into the United States could have a very
high proportion of its manufacturing costs be U.S. costs, but is nonetheless not
considered by the U.S. Customs Service to have been last substantially transformed in the
United States. In such cases, the product would be required to be marked with a foreign
country of origin and an unqualified U.S. origin claim could not appropriately be made for
calculating manufacturing costs, manufacturers should ordinarily use as their measure the
cost of goods sold or finished goods inventory cost, as those terms are used in
accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Such costs will generally
include (and be limited to) the cost of manufacturing materials, direct manufacturing
labor, and manufacturing overhead. Marketers should also note the admonishment below that,
in determining the percentage of U.S. content, they should look far enough back in the
manufacturing process that a reasonable marketer would expect that it had accounted for
any significant foreign content.
For example, assume that a
company manufactures lawn mowers in its U.S. plant, making most of the parts (housing,
blade, handle, etc.) itself from U.S. materials. The engine, which constitutes 50% of the
total cost of manufacturing the lawn mower, is bought from a U.S. supplier, which, the
lawn mower manufacturer knows, assembles the engine in a U.S. factory. Although most of
the parts and the final assembly of the lawn mower are of U.S. origin and the engine is
assembled in the United States, the lawn mower will not necessarily be considered all or
virtually all made in the United States. This is because the engine itself is made up of
various parts that may be imported and that may constitute a significant percentage of the
total cost of manufacturing the lawn mower. Thus, before labeling its lawn mower
"Made in USA," the manufacturer should look to its engine supplier for more
specific information as to the engine's origin. For instance, were foreign parts to
constitute 60% of the cost of producing the engine, then the lawn mower would contain a
total of at least 30% foreign content, and an unqualified "Made in USA" label
would be inappropriate.
For purposes of this
Enforcement Policy Statement, the Commission considers raw materials to be products
such as minerals, plants or animals that are processed no more than necessary for ordinary
In addition, because raw
materials, unlike manufactured inputs, may be inherently unavailable in the United
States, the Commission will also look at whether or not the raw material is indigenous to
the United States, or available in commercially significant quantities. In cases where the
material is not found or grown in the United States, consumers are likely to understand
that a "Made in USA" claim on a product that incorporates such materials (e.g.,
vanilla ice cream that uses vanilla beans, which, the Commission understands, are not
grown in the United States) means that all or virtually all of the product, except for
those materials not available here, originated in the United States. Nonetheless, even
where a raw material is nonindigenous to the United States, if that imported material
constitutes the whole or essence of the finished product (e.g., the rubber in a
rubber ball or the coffee beans in ground coffee), it would likely mislead consumers to
label the final product with an unqualified "Made in USA" claim.
Nonetheless, in these
examples, other, qualified claims could be used to identify truthfully the domestic
processing that took place. For example, if the gold ring was designed and fabricated in
the United States, the manufacturer could say that (e.g., "designed and
fabricated in U.S. with 14K imported gold"). Similarly, if the ceramic tile were
manufactured in the United States from imported clay, the manufacturer could indicate that
These examples are intended
to be illustrative, not exhaustive; they do not represent the only claims or
disclosures that would be permissible under Section 5 of the FTC Act. As indicated,
however, qualified claims, like any claim, should be truthful and substantiated and should
not overstate the U.S. content of a product. For example, it would be inappropriate for a
marketer to represent that a product was "Made in U.S. of U.S. and imported
parts" if the overwhelming majority of the parts were imported and only a single,
insignificant part was manufactured in the United States; a more appropriate claim would
be "Made in U.S. of imported parts."
On the other hand, that the
last substantial transformation of the product takes place in the United States may
not alone be sufficient to substantiate such a claim. For example, under the rulings of
the U.S. Customs Service, a disposable razor is considered to have been last substantially
transformed where its blade is made, even if it is thereafter assembled in another
country. Thus, a disposable razor that is assembled in Mexico with a U.S.-made blade and
other parts of various origins would be considered to have been last substantially
transformed in the United States and would not have to bear a foreign country-of-origin
marking. Nonetheless, because the final assembly of the razor occurs abroad, it would be
inappropriate to label the razor "Made in U.S. of U.S. and imported parts." It
would, however, likely be appropriate to label the razor "Assembled in Mexico with
U.S.-made blade," "Blade made in United States, razor assembled in Mexico"
or "Assembled in Mexico with U.S. and imported parts."
- 19 C.F.R. § 134.46. Specifically, this
provision provides that:
In any case in which the words "United States," or
"American," the letters "U.S.A.," any variation of such words or
letters, or the name of any city or locality in the United States, or the name of any
foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which the article was
manufactured or produced appear on an imported article or its container, and those words,
letters or names may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual country of
origin of the article, there shall appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to
such words, letters or name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of
origin preceded by "Made in," "Product of," or other words of similar
In a Federal Register notice
announcing amendments to this provision, the Customs Service indicated that, where a
product has a foreign origin, any references to the United States made in the context of a
statement relating to any aspect of the production or distribution of the product (e.g.,
"Designed in USA," "Made for XYZ Corporation, California, U.S.A.," or
"Distributed by ABC, Inc., Colorado, USA") would be considered misleading to the
ultimate purchaser and would require foreign country-of-origin marking in accordance with
the above provision. 62 Fed. Reg. 44,211, 44,213 (1997).