As we enter the dog days of summer, the FCC continues to turn up the heat on equipment marketing enforcement. But while million dollar fines for marketing noncompliant devices capture the spotlight, the FCC also quietly issued a number of equipment marketing actions focused on a single type of device: LED signs. In just the last three months, the FCC has settled over ten investigations involving the marketing of LED signs used in digital billboards for commercial and industrial applications without the required authorizations, labeling, or user manual disclosures. Each action involved an entity that either manufactured or sold (or both) LED signs. The agency’s recent actions should be a shot across the bow to any retailer of LED signs to ensure that their devices are properly tested and authorized prior to sale. Otherwise, these companies may face significant fines and warehouses of unmarketable devices.
Most consumers might not think that LED signs fall within the FCC’s jurisdiction. However, the signs emit radio waves that can interfere with communications services. As a result, the FCC requires most LED signs and other “unintentional” radiators to be tested for compliance with its technical requirements prior to marketing. Importantly, the FCC’s rules prohibit the marketing of such devices unless they have been properly authorized, labeled, and carry the required disclosures. Even with the FCC’s recent efforts at simplification, the rules regarding equipment marketing are complex, requiring close attention to compliance at every step in the supply chain.