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E-Labeling RFID Devices Can Save Suppliers Cash

Doing it wrong can cost millions and trigger market exclusion.
By Ronald E. Quirk

Sanctions for Improper Labeling Can Include Losing Marketing Authority
The FCC strictly enforces its RF equipment labeling rules. Historically, the FCC would levy fines on non-compliant suppliers and require them to implement compliance programs. Lately, the FCC has, in addition to imposing fines and sanctions, implemented a policy wherein RF equipment suppliers that violate the rules may lose their authorizations to market their products in the United States. Accordingly, it is more critical than ever for RF equipment suppliers to fully understand and comply with all of the FCC's equipment authorization, marketing, and importation rules, as well as its labeling requirements.

FCC Surveillance of RF Equipment
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau routinely scours the Internet and utilizes other methods to search for non-compliant RF equipment. When the FCC finds equipment that does not comply with its rules, it opens an investigation that subjects the responsible party to public exposure of rule violations and, as described above, often results in the imposition of fines and severe sanctions.

Moreover, the FCC's rules require Telecommunications Certification Bodies (TCBs) to conduct post-market surveillance on at least five percent of the RF equipment they have certified.[11] This surveillance is intended to ensure that marketed RF equipment conforms to the technical parameters of equipment that was tested and certified. TCBs conduct surveillance by obtaining samples of suspicious RF devices on the market, measuring the characteristics, and comparing them to the characteristics of the prototypes that were authorized. Responsible parties whose RF devices are under surveillance must, upon request, provide the investigating TCB with a sample RF device or vouchers to purchase any sample device the TCB wishes in order to conduct its surveillance.

Adopt Best Practices to Mitigate Chances of Rule Violations
With the FCC now threatening lifetime bans on delinquent RF equipment suppliers, compliance is now more important than ever before. RF equipment suppliers, including RFID providers, are well advised to work with experienced professionals who understand the FCC rules in order to evaluate the risks of FCC rule violations and what they could mean to the company. While many RFID manufacturers are understandably anxious to get their products to market, it is becoming increasingly unwise to cut corners on regulatory compliance. Savvy RF device suppliers not only understand the rules, but also implement internal best-practice procedures in order to mitigate the risk of FCC rule violations.

To learn more, please contact Ron Quirk, the head of The CommLaw Group's Internet of Things Practice Group, at req@commlawgroup.com or 703-714-1305. Ronald focuses his practice on serving the comprehensive needs of the burgeoning and complex IoT industry, including contracts and commercial law, privacy and cybersecurity, spectrum access, equipment authorization, tax, regulatory compliance planning and more. His career has spanned more than 20 years, including several years at AMLAW 100 firms and the FCC.

[1] See 47 C.F.R. § 2.935(a).
[2] See 47 C.F.R. § 15.19.
[3] See 47 C.F.R. §§ 2.1074, 2.1077, 15.19.
[4] See 47 C.F.R. § 15.19(a)(3), (b)(4).
[5] See 47 C.F.R. § 15.19(a)(5).
[6] See Amendment of Parts 0, 1, 2, and 15 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Authorization of Radiofrequency Equipment, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 30 FCC Rcd. 7725 (2015) at ¶ 101.
[7] See 47 C.F.R. § 2.935(b). A copy of these instructions must also be provided in an application for equipment certification.
[8] See 47 C.F.R. § 2.935(c). For example, step one would be a user accessing the device setting menu; step two would be accessing a sub-menu of legal information; and step three would be accessing a further sub-menu of FCC compliance information. See In the Matter of Parts 0, 1, 2, 15, and 18 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Authorization of Radiofrequency Equipment, FCC 17-93 (Rel. July 14, 2017) at ¶ 31.
[9] See 47 C.F.R. § 2.935(e).
[10] See 47 C.F.R. § 2.935(f).
[11] See 47 C.F.R. § 2.962(g).

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