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Horizon Hobby issues R/C gray-market warning

In an open letter to retailers, Horizon Hobby has issued a warning concerning the purchase and sales of gray-market Spektrum receivers that have been widely advertised on the Internet. Here is the letter, in full.

Published: July 13, 2010

Dear retailer!

Many of you have been asking questions about the gray-market Spektrum receivers that have been publicized on the Internet. We would like to point out that importing, retailing, or using these low grade receivers holds significant risk. We feel it is important that you be completely aware of these risk factors as the consequences, legal and otherwise, can be severe.

To begin with, there are several technical risks that we have identified that anyone considering importing or using these receivers needs to be aware of.

1. As unlicensed copies that have been made without our involvement or expertise, they feature software code and hardware that is not the same as that used in authentic Spektrum receivers.

2. Because they are knock off versions of early Spektrum receiver versions, they do not offer the improvements we have made to our components or code.

3. The knockoff receivers we have analyzed were made out of cheaper materials and components. They do not meet our quality requirements and we have found them to be unstable in operation.

4. Many of these knockoffs use different antennas with very poor soldering. This is one of the most critical issues for the performance of any receiver and can result in some of the most serious consequences.

In addition to the technical issues there are significant legal risks that anyone who imports or uses these receivers exposes themselves to:

1. Counterfeit receivers violate Horizon’s intellectual property rights. We are pursuing all reasonable actions to protect our patents, source codes, trademark and brands.

2. A knockoff receiver will not be guaranteed, serviced or supported by the Horizon Hobby service center. No upgrades of code will be made available.

3. The person who purchases one of these counterfeit receivers may be viewed as an importer in the eyes of the law. This can result in many unpleasant legal consequences.

4. Importers of these knockoffs will be held responsible for ensuring compliance and proof of compliance for all applicable regulations (FCC or CE).

5. Importers will be solely liable for any damages involving these products as the source of these counterfeit products will, in most cases, be inaccessible in the event of an accident.

6. As an importer, anyone who purchases these counterfeits can be held responsible for all import duties and taxes that apply to the distribution and selling of these products.

7. If an importer resells any of these counterfeits, they are the guarantors of its quality and will be held liable for service needs.

8. Any liability insurance an importer of counterfeit receivers can be nullified if it is discovered the required FCC documentation or other compliance documentation cannot be provided. The consequences for this kind of legal action are incalculable.

We at Horizon are constantly working to offer the best possible Spektrum products that are high quality, durable and, most importantly, safe. For your sake, and that of your customers, please make sure they only use genuine Spektrum receivers with their transmitters. As you can see, the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Your Horizon Team