FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges that Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Made Overly Broad and Misleading ‘Made in USA’ Claims about Houseware and Furniture Products
Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order settling charges that home products and kitchen wares company Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (“Williams-Sonoma”) made false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims that all of its Goldtouch Bakeware products, its Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products are all or virtually all made in the United States.
First announced in March 2020, the FTC’s complaint alleged that Williams-Sonoma deceptively claimed in advertisements and promotional materials that certain categories of its products were all or virtually all made in the United States.
Under the terms of the final order, Williams-Sonoma is required to pay $1 million to the FTC. The company also is prohibited from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims for any product, unless it can show that the product’s final assembly or processing—and all significant processing—takes place in the United States, and that all or virtually all components of the product are made and sourced in the United States. Under the order, any qualified Made in USA claims must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, components, and/or processing. To claim that a product is assembled in the United States, Williams-Sonoma must ensure that it is last substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and its United States assembly operations are substantial.
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 voted 4-0-1 to approve the final order in this case, with Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter not participating.
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