Although its wireless parking meters were FCC compliant, the company marketed first and certified only afterward.

IPS Group, Inc. (motto: “Smarter parking for smart cities”), manufactures wireless parking meters. (The wireless feature enables credit card authorization, among other functions.) Like most small wireless devices, the meters are subject to detailed FCC technical rules and require certification for compliance with those rules.

The IPS meters complied with the technical rules and were duly certified. But ironically (since the purpose of its products is keeping careful track of time), there was a problem with IPS’s timing.

The FCC rules specify that devices requiring certification must have completed the FCC’s certification procedure before the devices are marketed. For FCC purposes, “marketing” includes “sale or lease, or offering for sale or lease, including advertising for sale or lease, or importation, shipment, or distribution for the purpose of selling or leasing or offering for sale or lease.” IPS had its meters certified only after, not before, undertaking some of these activities.

The slip-up resulted in a consent decree that cost IPS a $14,000 civil fine and some administrative headaches.

We hope other manufacturers will take the case as a warning: make sure the marketing people and the compliance people stay in touch and work from the same calendar.

There is another warning here as well: the FCC knew about the violation because a competitor of IPS’s turned them in. This is how the FCC learns about many, perhaps most, equipment violations. If you have a competitor, the FCC has a free-lance enforcement agent watching you.