May 2005 News
Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. to appeal California court decision
May, 2005, Portland, OR - A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has found that between April of 1997 and April of 2002, Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. violated a unique California law concerning the ability of companies to represent their products as "Made in USA." The court in Colgan v. Leatherman Tool Group held that under California law Leatherman engaged in false or misleading advertising by representing that certain of its tools were "Made in USA." As a result, the court directed the company to pay approximately $13 million in restitution. Leatherman is disappointed with the ruling and intends to file an appeal.
A recent Associated Press story about the ruling gave the distinct impression that Leatherman brand multi-tools are, for the most part, made outside the United States. This is false.
The unique California law at issue prohibits companies from selling in California any product represented as "Made in USA" if "any article, unit, or part" of the product was "substantially made, manufactured, or produced outside of the United States." As interpreted by one California judge, the law prohibits a "Made in USA" representation of a product even if the only foreign content in the product is a single screw.
These Leatherman tools were all built and assembled by U.S. workers at U.S. factories using primarily parts made entirely in the United States and some parts processed, in part, in Western Europe, Mexico, or Canada. Unfortunately, Leatherman is not able to procure all of its component parts in the United States because of quality, technological, or economic considerations. But Leatherman Tool Group has never shipped a job overseas, and the company remains committed to keeping and creating as many jobs here as possible.
"As proud as I am of the invention of the Leatherman tool, I am even more proud of the hundreds of American jobs I have created," said company founder and president Tim Leatherman. "I am disappointed in the court's ruling for a number of reasons, but I am especially disappointed that the court disregarded a ruling issued by a federal judge in 1997 stating that our representation that the Leatherman PST tool was made in the United States was "neither false nor misleading."
Oregon-based Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. is the inventor and world's leading manufacturer of compact multi-purpose tools. The company has sold more than 30 million of its versatile tools since its inception in 1983.