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New Labeling Flexibility Among Changes in Amended Fur Regulations

Monday, May 19, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Federal Trade Commission has amended its regulations under the Fur Products Labeling Act (the Fur Rules) to update the Fur Products Name Guide, provide businesses with more flexibility in labeling, incorporate provisions of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2010 and conform the Fur Rules’ guaranty provisions to those governing textile products. These changes will take effect Nov. 19, 2014.

The Fur Act and Fur Rules currently require manufacturers, dealers and retailers to label products made entirely or partly of fur. These labels must disclose (1) the animal’s name, as provided in the Name Guide; (2) the presence of any used, bleached, dyed or otherwise artificially colored fur; (3) that the garment is composed of, among other things, paws, tails, bellies, sides, flanks or waste fur, if that is the case; (4) the name or registered identification number of the manufacturer or other party responsible for the garment; and (5) the fur’s country of origin. In addition, manufacturers must include an item number or mark on the label for identification purposes. The Fur Rules also provide for separate and continuing guaranties, documents that allow an entity to provide a guaranty certifying that the products it manufactures or transfers are not mislabeled or falsely advertised or invoiced. Separate guaranties specifically designate particular fur products, while continuing guaranties apply to any fur product or fur handled by a guarantor and are valid indefinitely. An entity that receives a guaranty in good faith will not generally be liable for violations related to the guarantied goods.

Some of these provisions are now being amended. For example, the FTC rule provides the following new flexibility with respect to labeling.

- disclosures that fur comes from sides or flanks are no longer required

- specific label size requirements are replaced with a requirement that labels be “conspicuous and of such durability as to remain attached to the product throughout any distribution, sale or resale, and until sold and delivered to the ultimate consumer”

- specific label text size requirements are replaced with a requirement that information be disclosed “in such a manner as to be clearly legible, conspicuous and readily accessible to the prospective purchaser”

- limits on information appearing on the front of the label are removed, thereby allowing true and non-deceptive information to be included on either side

- a provision specifying a particular order for FTC disclosures is eliminated

- the requirement for items manufactured for use in pairs or groups to be firmly attached to each other when marketed and delivered in the channels of trade and to the purchaser is replaced with a provision allowing a single label for items marketed or handled in pairs or ensembles, regardless of whether they are attached to each other at the point of sale

- the requirement to assign an item number or mark to furs and to disclose it on invoices and labels is removed

The amended Fur Rules also (1) retain “Asiatic raccoon” in the Name Guide for labeling fur products from the species nyctereutes procyonoides, (2) clarify that guaranties can be electronic documents but do not require the annual renewal of continuing guaranties (although the FTC states that it will revisit this issue if it finds that continuing guaranties have become less reliable after the guaranty amendments take effect), and (3) eliminate unnecessary provisions on treating fur with iron or copper and attaching labels.

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