Feds go to court in Portland to seek $2.8 million fine against HobbyKing for marketing unauthorized drone transmitters
The U.S. government on Thursday filed a civil suit in federal court in Portland against drone distributor HobbyKing seeking a $2.8 million fine for selling and marketing unauthorized drone communication devices.
The Federal Communications Commission determined that HobbyKing was marketing to US customers at least 65 models of AV transmitters that were not certified by the federal agency and would not have legitimate amateur radio use.
The certification requirement ensures that the radio frequency equipment does not interfere with federal government operations, such as the Federal Aviation Administration’s aeronautical radar systems. Fifteen of the 65 designs “created a threat to public safety,” according to the civil complaint.
The Federal Regulatory Commission also found that drone transmitters were marketed to drone hobbyists, not licensed radio amateurs.
The Federal Communications Commission sent the company a letter on Nov. 1, asking for full payment of the fine within 30 days, according to the complaint. The amount remains unpaid, according to the complaint.
The government is seeking $2.8 million for the HobbyKing violations and $39,278 for the failure to comply with the commissioner’s orders, plus interest.
The company argued with federal regulators that there are no marketing rules that specifically address “general-purpose” drone equipment capable of both amateur and non-amateur frequencies and that it has not been advised that its marketing was illegal.
The company also argued that responding to the agency would violate its Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and that the amount of the fine should be reduced due to the company’s inability to pay, records show. judicial.
The Federal Communications Commission rejected the company’s arguments, saying its rules prohibit the marketing of radio frequency devices unless the devices have first been labeled and authorized according to the commission’s rules.
HobbyKing is the trading name of several US-based companies, including ABC Fulfillment Services and Indubitably, Inc., as well as a Hong Kong-based company, Hextronik. All companies are associated with a man named Anthony Hand.
The complaint is being filed in Oregon because Indubitably, Inc.’s principal place of business is Portland and companies doing business in Oregon, according to the complaint.
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