FTC takes action against Lions Not Sheep and its owner for affixing fake US-made labels to clothing imported from China

The Federal Trade Commission today took action against apparel company Lions Not Sheep Products, LLC and its owner Sean Whalen for falsely claiming that its imported apparel was made in the United States. According to the FTC complaint, the company added fake Made in USA labels to clothing and accessories imported from China and other countries. The FTC’s proposed order requires Lions Not Sheep and Whalen to stop making false Made in USA claims, disclose foreign production and pay monetary judgment.

“Companies that affix false Made in USA labels to imported products are deceiving their customers and undermining honest businesses, and we will hold these companies and their executives accountable for their wrongdoing,” said Sam Levine, director of the Office of Privacy Protection. FTC consumers. “American consumers have the right to know the truth about where their clothes and accessories are made.”

Utah-based Lions Not Sheep is a clothing company that sells t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and sweaters on its own website as well as through Amazon and Etsy. The company and its owner Whalen marketed it extensively via social media, saying it would “show people that it’s possible to live your life like a LION, not like a sheep.” Their Made in USA claims online and on product labels included “Made in the USA”, “Made in America”, “Are your products made in the USA?” “100% AMERICAN MADE” and “BEST AMERICAN MADE EQUIPMENT ON THE PLANET”. In most cases, products advertised using these claims consist of fully imported shirts and hats with limited finishing work done in the United States.

The complaint alleges that on October 8, 2020, Whalen posted a video of himself to his social media accounts, with the caption MADE IN AMERICA! next to a Chinese flag. In the video, Whalen said he could hide the fact that his shirts are made in China by ripping out the original tags and replacing them with tags that say the merchandise was made in the United States.

According to the complaint, between May 10, 2021 and October 21, 2021, Whalen and Lions Not Sheep removed tags revealing that the merchandise was made in a foreign country and printed “Made in USA” on the collar of the shirts, as pictured. below:

Enforcement measures

The proposed command the FTC’s settlement of complaints against Whalen and Lions Not Sheep prohibits the conduct alleged in the complaint. The order requires that Whalen and Lions Not Sheep:

  • Judge: They must pay a judgment of $211,335.
  • Stop making false Made in USA claims: They must stop claiming that products are made in the United States unless they can prove that the final assembly or processing of the product – and all significant processing – takes place here and that all or nearly all of the ingredients or product components are manufactured and purchased here. Under the terms of the proposed order, Whalen and Lions Not Sheep are prohibited from labeling products as “Made in the USA” unless final assembly or processing, and any substantial processing that falls within products only occur in the United States; and unless all or substantially all of the ingredients or components of the products are manufactured and sourced in the United States. They must also submit compliance reports.
  • Be clear about foreign production: Under the order, all qualified Made in the United States claims must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure of the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients or components, or processing. Finally, claiming that a product is assembled in the United States, Whalen and Lions Not Sheep shall ensure that it is last substantially processed in the United States, that its primary assembly takes place in the United States, and that assembly operations in United States are important.

FTCs U.S. Origin Claims Enforcement Policy Statement provides additional guidance on non-misleading “Made in USA” claims.

The Commission’s vote to file the complaint and accept the consent agreement was 4-0. The FTC will publish a description of the set of consent agreements in the Federal Register soon. Instructions for submitting comments are in the published notice. Comments must be received 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.

REMARK: When the Board makes a consent order final, it has the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $46,517.

Charles P. Patton