FTC Upgrades RN Criteria for Clothing, Fur and Textile Labels

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The Federal Trade Commission is taking further steps to ensure that clothing, fur and textile labels are accurate and effective in protecting consumers in the U.S.

On Friday, the FTC announced that it will streamline requirements under the Fur, Textile and Wool labeling rules, as part of acting chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen’s regulatory reform plan.

“Regulations can be important tools in protecting consumers, but when they are outdated, excessive, or unnecessary, they can create significant burdens on the U.S. economy, with little benefit. Private firms face constant market pressure to innovate and improve, and I see no reason why government should operate any differently,” said Ohlhausen. “American taxpayers should expect nothing less from us.”

The FTC is updating the rules to apply web-based electronic filings of requests to cancel, obtain or update registered identification numbers (RN) used on fur, textile and wool product labels. The web-based RN system will foster a more seamless application process for participating companies and boost the agency’s label compliance services to consumers.

FTC’s site now features real-time data validation for users and alerts them about potential errors in labeling to avoid delays. The system currently has more than 140,000 entries and the FTC urges industry members with RN numbers to visit the website to verify that their information is correct.

[Read more on U.S. product labeling: Are Courts Loosening the Reins on “Made in USA Labeling Rules?]

FTC rules dictate that most apparel, fur and textile products must contain a label that identifies the manufacturer responsible for handling and marketing the item. With the updated RN system, companies may easily obtain an RN without having to put extended company names on labels.

Under the textiles umbrella, the FTC is also seeking public comment to remove obsolete provisions of its Textile Labeling Rules, which require marketers to attach labels to textile products that disclose the manufacturer or marketer’s name, the nation where the product was produced and the generic names and percentages by weight of fibers in the product.

Marketers are also allowed to disclose a trademark used as a “housemark”— a distinctive mark used to identify a marketer or manufacturer’s products—on the tag instead of their business name. This exception is only available to companies if they first register their housemark with the FTC. Established in 1959, this provision is obsolete as trademark owners can now be found easily online or through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Website.

The FTC published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Textile Rule in June and alerted industry members to post public comments by Aug. 31 for review.

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