For US companies engaged in the design‚ production‚ distribution and sale of consumer products‚ one significant issue that always exists relates to your product labeling. Labeling not in terms of tradenames and trade dress (a separate issue and topic) but‚ rather‚ warning labels that are mandated and suggested by a broad range of government agencies and industry associations.
Why is this Important?
The most obvious reason (which you are aware of) is that you are a target by personal injury lawyers looking to blame you for what in many cases relates to the negligence of an injured individual. Also there are plenty of “product labeling lawyers” out there looking to sue you over your product labeling – one example being California’s Proposition 65. Also the right labels will help cut off lawsuits and avoid disruption to your relationships with the vendors and retailers that your business relies on.
Some Things to Be Aware of:
When it comes to product labeling the range of issues are as diverse as the multitude of products and services in the market place. Labeling requirements vary for hazardous goods and materials and whether or not the product is assessable to children. So‚ here is some base information that your should be aware of:
- ANSI – The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private not for profit organization that issues certifications and standards. ANSI offers accreditation programs for a wide range of products ranging from appliances‚ building materials‚ food service equipment to plastic piping and other manufactured product.
- UL – Is a membership organization that offers and promulgates‚ among other things‚ safety standards and procedures for various products. Product certification and UL approval is a paid for service. However the UL certification has been broadly adopted and recognized by consumers and large box retailers.
- CPSC – The Consumer Product Safety Commission is a government agency. Charges with protecting consumers‚ the CPSC has promulgated thousands of regulations relating to packaging and safety standards for an assortment of consumer products. No matter what product you are producing or distributing‚ chances are‚ the CPSC has issued a mandatory regulation respecting that products packaging or construction. The following is a link to the CPSC’s Index of Regulated Products.
So What is The Point that I am Advocating for Manufacturers and Distributors?
First Point‚ the information in this post is basic but I raise it to emphasize or‚ at least‚ remind you that although your product may have a long established history or be comprised of a basic construction‚ you nevertheless must ensure that the product meets mandatory government requirements (i.e.‚ CPSC) and industry norms (i.e.‚ ANSI and UL). In fact CPSC‚ ANSI and UL are just a few – there are many other applicable regulations.
Second Point. Many times importers and distributors rely on their foreign factory for product labeling and safety or‚ worse‚ just copy competitor labels. The problem is that many factories and many of your competitors may have no clue and they are guessing at their warnings and packaging.
Final Point. Product labeling is not rocket science. Establishing set procedures with your product labeling counsel or outside counsel is almost always a cost effective endeavor – especially when factoring in insurance premium increases and lost retailer relationships when the wrong label creates litigation risk and exposure.
To speak with our law office regarding product labeling call 1-800-9076-4904 or use our contact form.