The Federal Trade Commission Fines Kubota $2 Million for Mislabeling “Made in the USA” Products

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that it has imposed a $2 million fine on Kubota, one of the leading tractor manufacturing companies globally. The penalty was imposed due to Kubota’s mislabeling of some of its replacement parts as “Made in the USA.” This settlement represents the largest civil penalty imposed for violating the Made in USA Labeling Rule, according to Samuel Levine, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Kubota North America Corporation, based in Dallas, violated the 2021 rule by labeling thousands of products that were either wholly imported or made with significant imported materials as U.S.-made. This erroneous labeling had been occurring since at least 2021, as stated in a court order. Moreover, even after the production of these items was shifted overseas, Kubota failed to make necessary changes to the package designs that featured “Made in USA” labels. The FTC complaint alleges that these deceptive practices not only cheated consumers but also posed a threat to honest businesses.

In response to the FTC’s investigation, Kubota issued a statement, asserting its full cooperation with the agency. The company also stated that it is voluntarily addressing the concerns raised. Kubota claims that all parts sold to customers since 2021 were produced by approved Kubota suppliers and thus classified as “Kubota Genuine Parts.” Despite this assurance, the FTC has imposed certain restrictions on Kubota. The company is now prohibited from claiming U.S.-origin manufacturing for its products unless it can provide evidence of significant processing occurring in the U.S. Additionally, Kubota must disclose the use of foreign parts in its manufacturing process.

This is not the first time Kubota has faced consequences for deceptive Made in USA claims. In 1999, the FTC imposed a fine on the company for falsely claiming that a line of lawn tractors was made in the U.S. This history of misleading labeling raises concerns about Kubota’s commitment to honest business practices and transparency.

Established in Japan during the 19th century, Kubota has become a global manufacturer of tractors, construction equipment, and other types of machinery. The company entered the U.S. market in 1972 with a small office in Southern California, marking its expansion into the American market. While Kubota’s international success is commendable, it is essential that the company adheres to ethical labeling practices and provides accurate information to consumers.

This recent settlement with Kubota surpasses previous fines imposed for Made in USA labeling violations. Prior to this announcement, the largest settlement involved Resident Home LLC, the owner of mattress brands such as Nectar Sleep and DreamCloud Sleep. In that case, the company and its owner had to pay $753,000 to settle FTC charges related to DreamCloud mattresses that were falsely claimed to be made with domestic materials. The size of the fine imposed on Kubota reflects the seriousness of the company’s violation and emphasizes the FTC’s commitment to protecting consumers and honest businesses.

The FTC’s $2 million fine against Kubota serves as a reminder that deceptive labeling practices will not be tolerated. The company’s violation of the Made in USA Labeling Rule, along with its past history of similar infractions, raises concerns about Kubota’s commitment to transparency. Moving forward, it is essential for companies, regardless of their global success, to prioritize accurate and truthful labeling to protect consumers and maintain the integrity of the marketplace.

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