FTC Pulls Welcome Mat Over Home Products Retailer’s “Made in USA” Claims

  • The FTC entered into a settlement with Williams Sonoma, Inc., to resolve allegations that the retailer—which includes brands such as Pottery Barn, PBTeen, and West Elm—violated a previous FTC order by falsely representing that multiple products are “Made in USA” or otherwise of U.S. origin, when they are wholly imported or contain significant imported components.
  • In the complaint, the FTC alleges that Williams Sonoma violated the FTC’s 2020 Decision and Order which resolved similar claims and prohibited the retailer from making deceptive country-of-origin claims. The FTC alleges that in violation of the 2020 order, Williams Sonoma directly and indirectly misrepresented to consumers that certain products were of U.S. origin, when in reality the final assembly and processing did not occur—and/or virtually all ingredients or components were not made or sourced—in the United States, and that the U.S.-origin claims did not have “clear and conspicuous” qualifications immediately adjacent to the representations.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, Williams Sonoma must pay a $3.17 million civil penalty—a record for this type of allegation—and is permanently barred from representing that a good or service is “Made in the United States” unless the assembly, processing, and ingredients or components are made or sourced in the United States, except when there is a “clear and conspicuous” qualification, among other relief.
  • We previously covered other FTC actions against companies for allegedly making false “Made in USA” claims, including against a tractor maker, a mattress company, and a glue manufacturer.