Washington, DC - Please don’t tell the other entries in the Code of Federal Regulations – we wouldn’t want to stir up jealousies – but Business Blog readers have probably detected our fondness for 16 C.F.R. § 304.
Bonus points for those who know that 16 C.F.R. § 304 is the cite for the Rules and Regulations under the Hobby Protection Act. OK, it doesn’t cover our favorite hobbies, but we love it nonetheless. And for people who collect coins and political memorabilia, it provides important consumer protections. That’s why numismatists and campaign collectors (ILikeIkeophiles?) will want to know about changes the FTC is proposing.
Here’s the origin story for the Hobby Protection Rules. Passed in 1973, the Hobby Protection Act requires that “imitation numismatic items” and “imitation political items” must be “plainly and permanently” marked. The idea is so prospective buyers can tell if what’s for sale is a replica or the real deal. Congress directed the FTC to promulgate regulations for determining the “manner and form” of how those items must be marked, which is why the Hobby Protection Rules are on the FTC’s beat.
2014 was a watershed year for the Hobby Protection Act. As part of its ongoing review of rules and guides on the books, the FTC asked for comments about the Hobby Protection Rules. Not long after that, Congress passed the Collectible Coin Protection Act. That law amended the Hobby Protection Act to address not only the distribution by manufacturers and importers of imitation numismatic items, but also “the sale in commerce” of those items. In addition, the law makes it illegal “for a person to provide substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller if that person knows or should have known that the manufacturer, importer, or seller is engaged in any act or practice” that violates the marking requirements.
The FTC now proposes to align its Hobby Protection Rules to reflect those developments in the law. (You’ll want to read the Federal Register Notice for the details.)
What do you think about what the FTC is proposing? Give us your two cents by filing a comment online by the July 1, 2016, deadline. The Federal Register Notice offers step-by-step instructions. Just make sure those two cents are either genuine or “plainly and permanently” marked COPY, as the Rules require.