Do you feel the “Made in USA” label is valuable and should be protected, or is it appropriate to allow the category to be watered down or eliminated altogether?
That is precisely the case right now in the state of California where lock maker Kwikset Corp. is attempting to get around a number of state statutes after years of labeling its products “Made in USA” when they actually were being imported from Mexico.
A trial court found that 25 of Kwikset’s products were illegally labeled (Kwikset admitted that two others were illegally labeled). But a Court of Appeal overturned that judgment on the basis of recently enacted Proposition 64, which says that a consumer or business would have to prove they suffered a “loss of money or property” as a result of false advertising.
And, because those concerned could not show that the lockset products had any less market value due to the “Made in USA” advertising, the court claimed no injury had occurred. Essentially, the Court of Appeal held that the “Made in USA” label has no market value and therefore consumers do not lose anything when they buy products falsely labeled as “Made in USA.”
It appears Kwisket’s lawyers would have us believe the “Made in USA” label is meaningless.
Luckily, we have a patriotically motivated lead attorney representing the plaintiff in Mike Lenett, who is doing everything he can to protect and defend the integrity and value of the “Made in USA” label.
Actually, you would think Black & Decker–owned Kwikset would want the coveted “Made in USA” label to survive as well since they used it in one form or another for several years. Kwikset has in the past proclaimed its products were “Made in USA,” “All American Made” and “American Made and Proud Of It.”
That supposed pride evaporated when the company closed its American factory in Anaheim, Calif., where wage rates averaged $15-$18 an hour to take advantage of Mexican wage rates which average $1.60-$2.60 an hour. The factory closure in Anaheim in 1996 ended more than a half-century of production in that location. And now Black & Decker is building a new Kwikset factory in China.
It’s important to understand that the significance of this case stretches beyond Anaheim and can really affect the rest of America as well. Even if you’re not a lock manufacturer like Kwikset; even if you’re the owner of a company in a completely different industry; even if you’re not a business owner; and even if you’re consumer who has never even purchased a door lock in your life, the outcome of this case will have meaning to you.
This case is about protecting your choice to buy American, and helping and protecting other companies who stay in America to employ America’s own people. If companies like Kwikset are allowed to engage in false advertising, and a court will rule that there is no harm and no foul since there was no “loss of money or property” because of the blatantly false advertising, the “Made in USA” label will lose its value, its integrity, and become nothing more than a meaningless, sentimental slogan.
Attorney Mike Lenett has asked me to spread the word and urge concerned consumers and business owners to write what is called an amicus brief. Your statements can be two paragraphs or even two pages depending on the depth of your passion. Please e-mail your comments to [email protected] and I will forward them on to Mike Lenett.
Both Mike and I have been engaged in the buy-American issue for quite some time. Back in 1997 when the Federal Trade Commission made its proposal to water down the meaning of the “Made in USA” label available for public comment and consideration, I submitted a statement that is now public record available online. We need as much ammunition to strike down the absurdity referenced in Proposition 64 for this case.
For 45 years, California’s “Made in USA” statute has protected consumers who prefer to buy American-made products from unfair and deceptive use of the “Made in USA” label. The use of Proposition 64 threatens that honorable history. I hope you’ll make your beliefs known in this case and protect the “Made in USA” label, true American manufacturers from unfair competition and the fraud of false labeling. And I hope you’ll e-mail me to help fight the good fight for the “Made in USA” label.