When it comes to country of origin claims, the ACL says that:
- you must not make false or misleading claims
- you must not engage in misleading or deceptive conduct.
Ultimately, the test for whether a country of origin claim is false, misleading or deceptive is what an ordinary and reasonable consumer would conclude from the words and/or images. If the impression created is something other than the truth, it is likely to be misleading.
This may seem straightforward but keep in mind:
- don’t just rely on information provided to you by third parties. Make sure that you are confident about the truthfulness and accuracy of any claims you make or pass on to your customers.
- recognisable symbols and images can be just as forceful as words when it comes to making consumers believe particular things about a product. You should take care when designing your packaging, labels or tags to ensure it doesn’t give the wrong impression
- you cannot rely on small print and disclaimers as an excuse for an overall misleading message.
Example: Tim’s Textiles Pty Ltd imports pre-cut fabric and sews binding on the raw edges to produce towels. The finished products is called ‘True blue towels’ and has an image of a kangaroo and the Southern Cross on the packaging. These words and images are likely to constitute a representation about the origin of the towels and would raise concerns under the ACL. This is because they would reasonably lead an ordinary person to believe that those words and images mean that it was an Australian product.