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Notice

The M Group, et al.; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Proposed Consent Agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the complaint and the terms of the consent order — embodied in the consent agreement — that would settle these allegations.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before November 23, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties are invited to submit written comments electronically or in paper form. Comments should refer to “The M Group, Docket No. 9340” to facilitate the organization of comments. Please note that your comment — including your name and your state — will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including on the publicly accessible FTC website, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​publiccomments.shtm).

Because comments will be made public, they should not include any sensitive personal information, such as an individual’s Social Security Number; date of birth; driver’s license number or other state identification number, or foreign country equivalent; passport number; financial account number; or credit or debit card number. Comments also should not include any sensitive health information, such as medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, comments should not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person and which is privileged or confidential. . . .,” as provided in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and Commission Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). Comments containing material for which confidential treatment is requested must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled Start Printed Page 55847“Confidential,” and must comply with FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).1

Because paper mail addressed to the FTC is subject to delay due to heightened security screening, please consider submitting your comments in electronic form. Comments filed in electronic form should be submitted by using the following weblink: (https://public.commentworks.com/​ftc/​D9340) and following the instructions on the web-based form. To ensure that the Commission considers an electronic comment, you must file it on the web-based form at the (https://public.commentworks.com/​ftc/​D9340). If this Notice appears at (http://www.regulations.gov/​search/​index.jsp), you may also file an electronic comment through that website. The Commission will consider all comments that regulations.gov forwards to it. You may also visit the FTC website at (http://www.ftc.gov/​) to read the Notice and the news release describing it.

A comment filed in paper form should include the “The M Group, Docket No. 9340” reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

The Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”) and other laws the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives, whether filed in paper or electronic form. Comments received will be available to the public on the FTC website, to the extent practicable, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​publiccomments.shtm). As a matter of discretion, the Commission makes every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments it receives before placing those comments on the FTC website. More information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC’s privacy policy, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.shtm).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Korin K. Ewing, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, (202) 326-3556.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and § 3.25(f) the Commission Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 3.25(f), notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for October 22, 2009), on the World Wide Web, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​actions.shtm). A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission in either paper or electronic form. All comments should be filed as prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, and must be received on or before the date specified in the DATES section.

Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing a consent order from The M Group, Inc., also doing business as Bamboosa, a corporation, and Mindy Johnson, Michael Moore, and Morris Saintsing, individually and as members of the corporation (together, “respondents”).

The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for reception of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement’s proposed order.

This matter involves respondents’ marketing and sale of textile fiber products purportedly made of bamboo fiber. The FTC complaint alleges that respondents violated Section 5(a) of the FTC Act by making false claims that their textile fiber products are bamboo fiber; retain the anti-microbial properties of the bamboo plant; and will completely break down and return to the elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal. The complaint alleges that respondents’ textile fiber products are made of rayon; do not retain the anti-microbial properties of the bamboo plant; and that a substantial majority of household waste is disposed of by methods that do not present conditions that would allow for respondents’ textile fiber products to decompose into elements found in nature, within a reasonably short period of time. The complaint further alleges that the respondents failed to have substantiation for the foregoing claims.

The complaint also alleges that the respondents have violated the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (“Textile Act”) and the Rules and Regulations promulgated thereunder (“Textile Rules”) by falsely and deceptively labeling and advertising their textile fiber products as bamboo.

The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent respondents from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I.A of the proposed order prohibits respondents from representing that any textile fiber product (1) is made of bamboo or bamboo fiber; (2) is anti-microbial or retains the anti-microbial properties of any material from which it is made; or (3) is degradable, biodegradable, or photodegradable, unless such representations are true, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Part I.B prohibits respondents from making claims about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any textile fiber product, unless at the time the representation is made, it is truthful and not misleading, and is substantiated by competent and reliable evidence, which when appropriate must be competent and reliable scientific evidence. Part II makes clear that, although Part I prohibits respondents from making false and unsubstantiated representations that their textile fiber products are made of bamboo or bamboo fiber as opposed to rayon, the respondents nonetheless may describe such products using the generic name of any manufactured fiber and identifying bamboo as the cellulose source for such fiber (e.g., rayon made from bamboo), so long as such Start Printed Page 55848representation is true and substantiated. Part III of the proposed order prohibits respondents from failing to comply with the Textile Act or the Textile Rules.

Parts IV through VIII require respondents to keep copies of relevant advertisements and materials substantiating claims made in the advertisements; to provide copies of the order to certain of their personnel; to notify the Commission of changes in corporate structure that might affect compliance obligations under the order; to notify the Commission of changes in the individual respondents’ current business or employment; and to file compliance reports with the Commission and respond to other requests from FTC staff. Part IX provides that the order will terminate after twenty (20) years under certain circumstances.

The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way its terms.

By direction of the Commission.

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Donald S. Clark

Secretary.

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Footnotes

1. The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the Commission’s General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the public interest. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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[FR Doc. E9-26006 Filed 10-28-09: 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-S