A Farmingdale-based company that promoted its "Patriot Puck" as "100% Made in the USA" has agreed to stop making false claims about ice hockey gear that in fact is made in China, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.
The FTC complaint named George Statler III as an executive of Underground Sports Inc., also doing business as Patriot Puck. The company also used the names Hockey Underground Inc., Ipuck Inc. and Ipuck Hockey Inc.
Patriot Puck’s advertising, packaging, and promotional materials labeled the pucks as "Made in America," "Proudly Made in the USA," "100% American Made!" and "The only American Made Hockey Puck!" the FTC said.
In a telephone interview, Statler said he settled with the FTC because of the legal expense required to fight such an action.
"I just didn't want to go to court and battle something that would cost $100,000," he said. "What happened to me was unfair and not right."
The FTC complaint said that since January 2016, the company on Milbar Boulevard imported about 164,000 pounds of hockey pucks from China. Standard weight hockey pucks are about 6 ounces and training pucks are about 10 ounces.
"The big-picture point is that it’s unwise to try to skate misleading Made in USA claims past consumers," an FTC blog posting about the case said.
Under terms of the consent agreement, Statler and his companies neither admitted nor denied the allegations.
But they are prohibited from making claims about the U.S. origin of their products unless they can show that nearly all ingredients and components and the final assembly and processing are done and sourced in the United States.
They also must submit a compliance report a year from now providing contact information for their businesses, describing their activities and how they are maintaining compliance.
Statler said he sold both imported and domestic pucks and denied selling imports as "Patriot Pucks."
But he acknowledged that the Patriot Puck brand name was on the packaging of some imported pucks, a fact that competitors seized on when they alerted the FTC.
"It looked bad," he said. "I didn't know intertwining my company name was going to be a problem. I couldn't defend it."
Statler said he closed his companies over the summer but planned to introduce a new, American-made hockey puck in about six months.
"We'll be coming back with a vengeance," he said.
The commission vote to issue the complaint and accept the Patriot Puck consent order was 4-1, with commissioner Rohit Chopra voting no.
In a dissenting statement issued Wednesday, Chopra called on the FTC to go beyond "cease-and-desist orders" in such cases and seek "disgorgement of ill-gotten gains," "opt-in return programs" or "admissions of wrongdoing."