Federal Trade Commission.
Proposed consent agreement; request for comment.
The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices. 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.
Comments must be received on or before May 7, 2020.
Interested parties may file comments online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Williams-Sonoma, Inc.; File No. 202 3025” on your comment, and file your comment online at https://www.regulations.gov by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Julia Ensor (202-326-2377), Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, 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 website (for March 30, 2020), at this web address: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/commission-actions.
You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before May 7, 2020. Write “Williams-Sonoma, Inc.; File No. 202 3025” 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 https://www.regulations.gov website.
Due to the public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the agency's heightened security screening, postal mail addressed to the Commission will be subject to delay. We strongly encourage you to submit your comments online through the https://www.regulations.gov website.
If you prefer to file your comment on paper, write “Williams-Sonoma, Inc.; File No. 202 3025” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580; or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.
Because your comment will be placed on the publicly accessible website at https://www.regulations.gov, you are solely responsible for making sure your comment does not include any sensitive or confidential information. In particular, your comment should not include any sensitive personal information, such as your or anyone else'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 your comment does not include sensitive health information, such as medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, your comment should not include any “trade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential”—as provided by 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)—including in particular competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.
Comments containing material for which confidential treatment is requested must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with FTC Rule 4.9(c). In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c). Your comment will be kept confidential only if the General Counsel grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest. Once your comment has been posted on the public FTC website—as legally required by FTC Rule 4.9(b)—we cannot redact or remove your comment from the FTC website, unless you submit a confidentiality request that meets the requirements for such treatment under FTC Rule 4.9(c), and the General Counsel grants that request.
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Analysis of Proposed 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 Williams-Sonoma, Inc., also d/b/a Williams Sonoma, Williams Sonoma Home, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teen, West Elm, Rejuvenation, Outward, and Mark & Graham (“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, sale, and distribution of home products as made in the United States. According to the FTC's complaint, Respondent represented that its Goldtouch Bakeware products, Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products, including the materials and subcomponents used to make such products, are all or virtually all made in the United States. In fact, in numerous instances, Respondent's Goldtouch Bakeware products, Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products are wholly imported or incorporate significant imported materials or subcomponents. Based on the foregoing, the complaint alleges that Respondent engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent Respondent from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Consistent with the FTC's Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims, Part I prohibits Respondent from making U.S.-origin claims for its products unless either: (1) The final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the United States, all significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the United States, and all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States; (2) a clear and conspicuous qualification appears immediately adjacent to the representation that accurately conveys the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients or components, and/or processing; or (3) for a claim that a product is assembled in the United States, the product is last substantially transformed in the United States, the product's principal assembly takes place in the United States, and United States assembly operations are substantial.
Part II prohibits Respondent from making any country-of-origin claim about a product or service unless the claim is true, not misleading, and Respondent has a reasonable basis substantiating the representation.
Parts III through V are monetary provisions. Part III imposes a judgment of $1,000,000. Part IV includes additional monetary provisions relating to collections. Part V requires Respondent to provide sufficient customer information to enable the Commission to administer consumer redress, if appropriate.
Parts VI through IX are reporting and compliance provisions. Part VI requires Respondent to acknowledge receipt of the order, to provide a copy of the order to certain current and future principals, officers, directors, and employees, and to obtain an acknowledgement from each such person that they have received a copy of the order. Part VII requires Respondent to file a compliance report within one year after the order becomes final and to notify the Commission within 14 days of certain changes that would affect compliance with the order. Part VIII requires Respondent to maintain certain records, including records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the order. Part IX requires Respondent to submit additional compliance reports when requested by the Commission and to permit the Commission or its representatives to interview Respondent's personnel.
Finally, Part X is a “sunset” provision, terminating the order after twenty (20) years, with certain exceptions.
The purpose of this analysis is to aid public comment on the proposed order. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the proposed order or to modify its terms in any way.
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By direction of the Commission.
April J. Tabor,
[FR Doc. 2020-07310 Filed 4-6-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6750-01-P