This is the last installment of a three-part journey. What’s become of 2012’s holiday ad campaigns “Made In USA”? The campaigns seemed to be coming from everywhere, and they sort of were headed from those various directions. We are six-months in to this fiscal year. Let’s recap.
There was not a lot of main-stream news announcing a patriotic trend in American consumer loyalty during the holidays. We discovered an abundance of Made In The USA visual marks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). For example:
We noted there is a big difference between a visual mark and a basic word mark because descriptive words do not often merit trademark protection. Thus, I cannot trademark “Oranges” to sell oranges. A category of marks known as “certification marks” is available and anyone who meets those standards can use those marks.
The USPTO does not police fraud in the use of made in The USA or made in America claims. The enforcement of labeling the national source of origin of goods and the requirements for the labels you see on your clothes and other goods are the providence of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Charged with preventing deception and unfairness in the marketplace, the FTC Act gives the Commission the power to bring law enforcement actions against false or misleading claims that a product is of U.S. origin. Traditionally, the Commission has required that a product advertised as Made in USA be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S.
U.S. content must be disclosed on automobiles and textile, wool, and fur products. There’s no law that requires most other products sold in the U.S. to be marked or labeled Made in USA or have any other disclosure about their amount of U.S. content. However, manufacturers and marketers who choose to make claims about the amount of U.S. content in their products must comply with the FTC’s Made in USA policy.
The policy applies to all products advertised or sold in the U.S., except for those specifically subject to country-of-origin labeling by other laws. Other countries may have their own country-of-origin marking requirements. As a result, exporters should determine whether the country to which they are exporting imposes such requirements. For more information about the FTC click here.
Measure twice, cut once. Be sure to consult an attorney with experience in your industry before launching an advertising campaign. In the end, you are responsible for protecting your own trademarks. Registering them with the USPTO provides the owner of those marks with some greater protection than if the marks are not registered. Registration is an expensive process for most. One trademark in one category typically costs $325 just to file the application for registration. Selecting and protecting your trademark is part of building your business. It’s an investment in the goodwill and reputation of your company. If we can help you with your trademark needs feel free to contact Daniel at Elliot-Davis, PC, via email Daniel@elliott-davis.com