Thursday, February 6, 2014

Comments Received by the FTC Regarding Proposed Changes to the Wool Rules

In September 2013 the United States Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") announced proposed changes to the Rules Under the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939. Comments were due by December 3rd. While normally comments are posted by the FTC within a few days of the close of the comment period, an announced December 9th redesign of the FTC Website did not go as smoothly as expected (they never do) and the comments were finally posted today at

Six entities responded.

The Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute ("CCMI") was pleased to see that many earlier joint textile industry recommendations were accepted in whole or in part. CCMI was pleased that the Commission agreed there is a continuing need for the Wool Rules, that the Rules need to be updated to implement the Wool Suit Fabric Labeling Fairness and International Standards Conforming Act and modified to reflect some changes in business practices. CCMI agreed with the Commission's clarification that hair of a cashmere goat that does not meet the Act's definition of cashmere is to be labeled "wool." CCMI was pleased that in the case of the Super numbers correlating to the fiber diameter of very fine wools the Commission accepted the textile industry recommendation that no deviations or tolerances be established. CCMI asserted its belief that the use of the Super numbers in the cases of products containing no wool is a violation of the WPLA and, again, asked the Commission to address this issue.

The International Wool Textile Organisation ("IWTO") agreed completely with the Commission's decision that there is a continuing need for the Wool Rules and that the Rules need to updated to implement the Conforming Act and the reflect some changes in business practice. IWTO stated full support for the CCMI comments. With regard to the Super numbers, IWTO presented documentation that reputable business practice is to use Super only in the case of pure wool, not wool blends. IWTO also pointed out that it is the organization that, in 2003, developed the Code of Practice for the use of Super numbers which is recognized globally as relating to only products of pure wool. This point had been raised before in the joint textile industry comments and rejected by the Commission as inconsistent with the US law. Uniformity in nomenclature, something the IWTO desires, will, in the case of the use of Super numbers, be possible only with a change to the US law as the Commission finds it outside of their authority.

The Government of Australia, the nation which the source of much, probably most, of the very fine wool the will be subject to the regulation of Super numbers supported the positions of the IWTO.

Agathon Associates stated pleasure that the earlier joint industry, which were substantially drafted by Agathon Associates' Principal David Trumbull in his former capacity as Vice President, International Trade, National Textile Association, where, in many cases, accepted in whole or in part. Trumbull's comments also supported the recommendations in the CCMI comments.

The United States Fashion Industry Association ("USFIA") submitting comments not, as the above relating to fiber definitions, but rather focused on the topic of changing business practices. USFIA considered the Commission's recommendation that "hang-tags" not be required to provide a complete fiber content disclosure to be "a significant improvement [however] is does not eliminate completely the problem that the change is designed to ameliorate, i.e., where the hang-tag is provided by the fiber producer and is intended to describe the performance characteristics of the fiber." All interested parties that addressed the "hang-tag" issue agreed that the Rules should have some flexibility in this matter.

James Francis Cassle, Counselor at Law, suggested that the Commission should retain the existing "penalty of perjury" requirement for a valid wool law guaranty and agreed with the Commission's decision to not adopt various labeling certification schemes. Attorney Casale said of the Commission's decision which "declines to propose a specific testing methodology for identifying fiber" that "The tentative decision neither addresses nor resolves the claim of record and separately foisted on the market, that forensic fiber identification is inherently unreliable." Appended to the comments are a December 20, 2010 complaint to the FTC regarding alleged cashmere mislabeling and several pages of supporting documentation.

No comments:

Post a Comment