Hobby King May Have a Problem

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,752
Just learned of an FCC action potentially affecting users in the US https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-18-71A1.pdf

And this less legalistic summary: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-351279A1.pdf
Seems like they admit the basic facts.
HobbyKing does not deny the operating parameters of the AV transmitters that it markets on its website, including that the uncertified AV transmitters can operate on non-amateur frequencies and at unlawful power levels.42 The Company instead claims that it does not market its devices to U.S. customers.43 Substantial evidence in the record indicates, however, that HobbyKing markets its devices to customers in the United States.44 In addition to the evidence presented above, HobbyKing posted on the HobbyKing.com Instagram account, “Wishing our US customers a very happy Independence Day!” on July 3, 2017.45 HobbyKing also admitted in patent litigation in 2015 that it marketed its products in the Unites States via HobbyKing.com.46 Finally, a public filing from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) stated that an ARRL member was able to purchase two AV transmitters from HobbyKing, including having the devices shipped to a U.S. address.47 Individually and taken together, HobbyKing’s many admissions in this investigation, in other litigation, and on its website, combined with other record evidence, shows that HobbyKing markets its noncompliant devices in the United States to U.S. customers. Moreover, the fact that HobbyKing may ship its noncompliant devices from overseas to customers in the U.S. does not exempt it from the Act or the Commission’s marketing rules. Section 302(b) of the Act and Section 2.803 of the Commission’s rules applies to HobbyKing regardless of the origin of the noncompliant device.48
 

Thread Starter

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
10,527
@nsaspook

Yes, it has been brewing awhile. The announced penalty/forfeiture is recent. Users of such equipment can be held individually liable since they are not labeled to be in compliance. Is anyone willing to take that risk in Federal court?
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,402
Users of such equipment can be held individually liable since they are not labeled to be in compliance. Is anyone willing to take that risk in Federal court?
I can assure you the answer is YES, many will. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a run on this equipment to snap it up before it disappears from the market. Human nature.
 

Thread Starter

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
10,527
Maybe those with nothing to loose will take that chance. The penalties can be severe, and few people have the expendable income to support the cost. Then, there are the non-judicial consequences. Civil forfeiture has been in the news recently. And of course, any insurance you have would not cover any damages. It's tough to build a business on selling to people with nothing to loose. The government seems to be the most successful at that with its lotteries, but RC equipment is distinctly different. To my knowledge, the rewards are a bit less than $400,000,000.00.

I believe the most likely consequence is that Hobby King will stop selling the devices when its lawyers wise up,* and the FCC may prosecute a few individuals as examples. If Hobby King doesn't wise up, it will probably be subject to civil forfeiture as it is an off-shore company. As for individuals, you may recall in the early days of 2.4 GHz equipment there was a new start-up named "Spektrum." And there were a few crashes blamed on erratic or low range. It took years to live that down, and the turning point was probably its purchase by Horizon Hobbies (OT: sad for JR, though).

I personally would never consider violating FCC (or DEA, FDA, FAA, XXX) regulations. They have enormous power.

John

*HK's website already shows changes consistent with that. How much it will fight the fine is up to question. Again, the most likely result is it will spend $100,000's on high powered attorneys to get the fines reduced in a negotiated settlement.
 
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