Federal Trade Commission.
Proposed consent agreement.
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 draft complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.
Comments must be received on or before August 26, 2013.
Interested parties may file a comment at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/ecobabyorganicsconsent online or on Start Printed Page 46951paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Ecobaby Organics, File No. 122 3129” on your comment and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/ecobabyorganicsconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, mail or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Robin Moore (202-326-2167), FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.
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Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 2.34, 16 CFR 2.34, 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 July 25, 2013), 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, DC 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.
You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before August 26, 2013. Write “Ecobaby Organics, File No. 122 3129” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.
Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive personal information, like anyone'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. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, do not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential,” as discussed in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). In particular, do not include competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.
If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).
Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel, in his or her sole discretion, grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest.
Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/ecobabyorganicsconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/#!home. you also may file a comment through that Web site.
If you file your comment on paper, write “Ecobaby Organics, File No. 122 3129” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail or deliver it to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.
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 Ecobaby Organics, Inc., a corporation (“respondent”).
The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt 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 respondent's marketing and sale of natural latex mattresses. According to the FTC's complaint, respondent makes three types of claims about these mattresses. First, respondent claims that its mattresses are certified by the National Association of Organic Mattress Industry (“NAOMI”), an independent third-party certifier with appropriate expertise in evaluating whether respondent's mattresses meet objective standards. However, the complaint alleges that NAOMI is an alter ego of respondent and not an independent third-party certifier and, indeed, awarded its seal to its own products without applying objective standards. Accordingly, the complaint alleges that such representations are deceptive practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
Second, respondent represents that its mattresses are chemical-free; Formaldehyde-free; free of VOCs, such as Toluene and Benzene; and without toxic substances. The complaint alleges that respondent did not possess and rely upon a reasonable basis substantiating these representations when it made them. Thus, the complaint alleges that respondent engaged in deceptive practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
Third, respondent claims that tests show that its mattresses are VOC-free, chemical-free, and Formaldehyde-free. The complaint alleges that tests do not support these claims. Thus, the Start Printed Page 46952complaint alleges that respondent engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
The proposed consent order contains four provisions designed to prevent respondent from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I addresses the marketing of VOC-free and chemical free mattresses. It prohibits respondent from making zero-VOC claims unless the VOC emission level is zero micrograms per meter cubed or the company possesses and relies upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that their mattresses contain no more than a trace level of VOCs based on the Green Guides' guidance on making free-of claims.
It also prohibits respondent from making chemical-free claims.
Part II addresses VOC claims, non-toxic claims, environmental benefit or attribute claims, and certain health claims made about mattresses. It prohibits such representations unless the representation is true, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
Part III addresses representations about third-party certifications. It prohibits any misrepresentations about the degree to which an independent third-party certifier has evaluated respondents mattresses based on environmental or health attributes, or evaluated those attributes based on the application of objective standards.
Part IV addresses claims that testing supports respondents' advertising claims for its mattresses. It prohibits any misrepresentations about the existence, contents, validity, results, conclusion, or interpretations of any test, study, or research.
Parts V through VIII require Ecobaby to: keep copies of advertisements and materials relied upon in disseminating any representation covered by the order; provide copies of the order to certain personnel, agents, and representatives having supervisory responsibilities with respect to the subject matter of the order; notify the Commission of changes in its structure that might affect compliance obligations under the order; and file a compliance report with the Commission and respond to other requests from FTC staff. Part IX provides that the order will terminate after twenty (20) years, with certain exceptions.
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 complaint or the proposed order, or to modify the proposed order's terms in any way.
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By direction of the Commission.
Richard C. Donohue,
[FR Doc. 2013-18611 Filed 8-1-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6750-01-P