WASHINGTON (AP) _ One of the world's largest clothing marketers has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle charges that it printed inaccurate instructions on care labels, resulting in damaged garments and unnecessary cleaning costs for consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that Jones Apparel Group also will create new procedures to comply with a 1971 rule requiring accurate care labels.

That rule was intended to ``ensure that consumers don't lose the hard-earned money they spend on clothing because of inaccurate information on how to clean it,'' said Howard Beales, the agency's director of consumer protection.

Jones Apparel general counsel Ira Dansky said the company did not admit violating the law. The company settled to avoid a costly legal dispute, he said.

``The allegations involve a handful of styles out of the thousands that we sell,'' Dansky said. The clothing was sold under the Jones New York and Jones New York Sport brands, he said.

Jones Apparel, based in Bristol, Pa., makes clothes under its own name and under license for Ralph Lauren and Todd Oldham for sale in upscale stores.

The FTC said that between 1998 and 2000, Jones Apparel sold cashmere sweaters labeled ``dry clean only'' that consumers could safely wash by hand. The company also sold garments with similar dry cleaning instructions that faded or were damaged when dry cleaned, the agency said.

The agency's commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the settlement.

In 1999, the FTC imposed a similar $300,000 penalty against Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A. Inc. for allegedly omitting care labeling information that led to garments bleeding and fading when washed according to instructions.

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