James C. Chen, Esq.
Crowell & Moring LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Mr. Chen:
This responds to your letter asking about requirements in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, Child Restraint Systems, that manufacturers label their products with a date of manufacture. A date of manufacture is required to be labeled on add-on child restraints (S5.5.2(c)), built-in child restraints (S5.5.5(c)), and on the child restraint registration card required by S5.8.1(c) of the standard. When describing the date of manufacture that manufacturers must provide, the standard refers to month and year (S5.5.2(c) and S5.5.5(c)), month, year (S5.8.1(c) and S5.8.2(a)(2)), or ZZ-ZZ-20ZZ (Figure 9a depicting registration form). You ask whether your client, Graco Childrens Products, Inc., may depict the date of manufacture as:
You state that Graco would include the clarifying text that explains the meaning of the numerals. For instance, a typical label would appear as follows in the shaded area of the registration form (the area outside of the space for the consumer to fill in) (you provided this example in a letter to us dated May 16, 2008):
Our answer is yes, Graco may use the above format to provide the date of manufacture on the child restraints and on the registration card.
FMVSS No. 213 requires that the month and year of manufacture be identified. It is our opinion that Gracos year-month-day format satisfies the requirements of FMVSS No. 213, provided that the words year, month, and day accompany the numerals. The words are important to explain the meaning of the numerals, since the U.S. typically uses a month, day, year format. With the accompanying text your clients format is readily
understood as providing the month and year of manufacture. Accordingly, Gracos labeling would satisfy the standards requirement that a date of manufacture be provided.
We would like to make the following observations about use of the format on the registration form. FMVSS No. 213 strictly controls the appearance of the form. We have found that the appearance of the form affects the likelihood that a consumer will participate in the owner registration program. S5.8(b)(2) requires that the registration form conform in size, content and format to forms depicted in the standard. Each form must be preprinted with the restraints model name or number and its date of manufacture. Under S5.8 no other information is permitted to appear on the postcard, except information that distinguishes a particular restraint from another restraint system may be preprinted in the shaded area of the postcard, as shown in figure 9a. (S5.8.1(b)(3)).
Gracos year-month-day format does not affect the overall appearance of the registration form. It provides the month and year of manufacture, and distinguishes a particular restraint from another restraint system. According to the example you provided, the year-month-day grid will be placed on the shaded area of the postcard. All of these factors lead us to conclude that the year-month-day format would satisfy S5.8.1(b)(3) of the standard.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke