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Rules and Regulations Under the Hobby Protection Act

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Federal Trade Commission.


Request for public comments.


The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) requests public comment on the overall costs, benefits, and regulatory and economic impact of its Rules and Regulations Under the Hobby Protection Act (“Rule”), as part of the Commission's systematic review of all current Commission regulations and guides.


Written comments will be accepted until May 2, 2003.


Six paper copies of each written comment should be submitted to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20580. To encourage prompt and efficient review and dissemination of the comments to the public, all comments also should be submitted, if possible, in electronic form, on a 31/2 inch computer disk, with a label on the disk stating the name of the commenter and the name and version of the word processing program used to create the document. (Programs based on DOS are preferred. Files from other operating systems should be submitted in ASCII text format.)

Alternatively, the Commission will accept papers and comments submitted to the following e-mail address:, provided the content of any papers or comments submitted by e-mail is organized in sequentially numbered paragraphs. All comments and any electronic versions (i.e., computer disks) should be identified as “16 CFR Part 304 Comment—Hobby Protection Act Rule. The Commission will make this notice and, to the extent possible, all papers and comments received in electronic form in response to this notice available to the public through the Internet at the following address:

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Neil Blickman, Attorney, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580; (202) 326-3038.

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I. Background

On November 29, 1973, Congress issued the Hobby Protection Act (“Act”), 15 U.S.C. 2101-2106. The Act requires manufacturers and importers of “imitation political items” [1] to mark “plainly and permanently” such items with the “calendar year” such items were manufactured. 15 U.S.C. 2101(a). The Act also requires manufacturers and importers of “imitation numismatic items” [2] to mark “plainly and permanently” such items with the word “copy.” 15 U.S.C. 2101(b). The Act further provides that the Commission is to promulgate regulations for determining the “manner and form” that imitation political items and imitation numismatic items are to be permanently marked with the calendar year of manufacture or the word “copy.” 15 U.S.C. 2101(c).

Pursuant to the Act, in 1975 the Commission issued Rules and Regulations under the Hobby Protection Act, 16 CFR Part 304. The Rule tracks the definitions of terms used in the Act and implements the Act's “plain and permanent” marking requirements by establishing the sizes and dimensions of the letters and numerals to be used, the location of the marking on the item, and how to mark incusable and nonincusable items.[3] In 1988, the Rule was amended to provide additional guidance on the minimum size of letters for the word “copy” as a proportion of the diameter of coin reproductions.[4] 53 FR 38942 (Oct. 4, 1988).

II. Regulatory Review Program

The Commission has determined to review all current Commission rules and guides periodically. These reviews seek information about the costs and benefits of the Commission's rules and guides and their regulatory and economic impact. The information obtained assists the Commission in identifying rules and guides that warrant modification or rescission. Therefore, the Commission solicits comment on, among other things, the economic impact of its Rules and Regulations Under the Hobby Protection Act; possible conflict between the Rule and state, local, or other federal laws; and the effect on the Rule of any technological, economic, or other industry changes.

III. Request For Comment

The Commission solicits written public comment on the following questions:

(1) Is there a continuing need for the Rule as currently promulgated?

(2) What benefits has the Rule provided to purchasers of the products or services affected by the Rule?

(3) Has the Rule imposed costs on purchasers? Start Printed Page 9857

(4) What changes, if any, should be made to the Rule to increase the benefits of the Rule to purchasers? How would these changes affect the costs the Rule imposes on firms subject to its requirements? How would these changes affect the benefits to purchasers?

(5) What significant burdens or costs, including costs of compliance, has the Rule imposed on firms subject to its requirements? Has the Rule provided benefits to such firms? If so, what benefits?

(6) What changes, if any, should be made to the Rule to reduce the burdens or costs imposed on firms subject to its requirements? How would these changes affect the benefits provided by the Rule?

(7) Does the Rule overlap or conflict with other federal, state, or local laws or regulations?

(8) Since the Rule was issued, what effects, if any, have changes in relevant technology, such as e-mail and the Internet, or economic conditions had on the Rule?

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List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 304

  • Hobbies
  • Labeling
  • Trade practices
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Authority: 15 U.S.C. 41-58.

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By direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,


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1.  An imitation political item is “an item which purports to be, but in fact is not, an original political item, or which is a reproduction, copy, or counterfeit of an original political item.” 15 U.S.C. 2106(2). The Act defines original political items as being any political button, poster, literature, sticker or any advertisement produced for use in any political cause. Id. at 2106(1). Political items dealers sell items such as presidential, local election, and cause-type buttons, pins, posters, tie clasps, cuff links, mugs, photos, inauguration invitations, marshal's badges, medals, ribbons and the like.

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2.  An imitation numismatic item is “an item which purports to be, but in fact is not, an original numismatic item or which is a reproduction, copy, or counterfeit of an original numismatic item.” 15 U.S.C. 2106(4). The Act defines original numismatic items to include coins, tokens, paper money, and commemorative medals which have been part of a coinage or issue used in exchange or used to commemorate a person or event. Id. at 2106(3).

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3.  Incusable items are those that can be impressed with a stamp.

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4.  Prior to the amendment, if a coin were too small to comply with the minimum letter size requirements, the manufacturer or importer had to individually request from the Commission a variance from those requirements. Because imitation miniature coins were becoming more common, the Commission determined that it was in the public interest to allow the placing of the word “copy” on miniature imitation coins in sizes that could be reduced proportionately with the size of the item.

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[FR Doc. 03-4868 Filed 2-28-03; 8:45 am]