On May 30, 2018, the Commission issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) proposing a total penalty of $590,380 against a company for marketing noncompliant radio frequency (“RF”) devices in apparent violation of the agency’s equipment marketing rules.  The allegations in the NAL provide a textbook example of how a company that becomes aware of a violation relating to products subject to the Commission equipment authorization procedures should not respond.  The NAL was issued against Bear Down Brands, LLC, dba Pure Enrichment (“Pure Enrichment”), a Delaware company, in connection with fourteen models of the company’s consumer-oriented electronic personal hygiene and wellness devices it markets and imports, all of which were Part 15 or Part 18 unintentional radiators.  The NAL alleges that the devices were noncompliant because they lacked proper equipment authorization, failed to make required user manual disclosures, and/or did not have compliant FCC labels.

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On October 24, the FCC Laboratory published a number of new and updated documents through its Knowledge Database (“KDB”) that liberalize further the equipment authorization process for a number of product types, including Software Defined Radios (“SDRs”).  That same day, the Lab released numerous other KDB publications providing guidance regarding both its RF exposure test procedures applicable to cellphones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other categories of devices, and the Commission’s “Permit But Ask” (“PBA”) procedures, which enable telecommunications certification bodies (“TCBs”) to test equipment for compliance with RF emissions limits even though the Commission has issued only partial guidance or where a certain amount of FCC oversight is still considered necessary.  Together, these changes are designed to allow a broader range of consumer devices subject to equipment authorization requirements prior to their being offered for sale, imported, or otherwise marketed to reach the marketplace quickly by allowing importers, manufacturers, and service providers to get them certificated more rapidly than in the past through the TCB process.

This wave of KDB publications, which are effective immediately subject to certain conditions in some cases, comes only one week after the FCC announced that a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) is on circulation among the Commissioners that would consider (a) codification of and refinements to the FCC’s permit-but-ask (“PBA”) procedure, (b) further articulating the post-grant obligations of TCBs, (c) requiring labs that manufacturers and importers use to test radiofrequency equipment to be accredited, and (d) officially recognizing the latest industry testing standards.  The text of the NPRM is not yet available and it is uncertain when the Commission will adopt the NPRM, which it is expected to do.


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