Technology

Law ends the need for regulator logos on devices

Amazon Fire Phone Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Regulator logos, at the bottom of this device, may soon not be needed at all

Electronic devices sold in the US are no longer required to display regulatory symbols and text, after a new law was passed.

The E-Labels Act said products such as smartphones and tablets could instead provide the information within the device's software.

There has been no change in the European law, so firms will still be required to display the "CE" mark.

Tech companies wanted a change to save design space as devices get smaller.

The symbols are designed to help make it clear to consumers that a product is compliant with the standards set out by regulators in respective countries.

The criteria for gaining a mark involves meeting various safety and environmental benchmarks.

Forging one of the marks can, in some countries, result in a fine or imprisonment.

Conformite

But in satisfying the regulators in different markets, devices have become increasingly cluttered.

A typical smartphone that is sold across major markets will carry a logo for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a logo to show a device complies with waste disposal regulations, and a warning symbol over data frequencies.

For European markets, a CE mark must be displayed - standing for Conformite Europeenne, which translates as European Conformity.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The law is intended to help device makers free up space on small devices such as Apple Watch

In addition, devices often carry various registration ID numbers.

Already taking up considerable space on smartphones, the trend to smaller gadgets like smartwatches makes the multitude of logos a problem for those packing a lot into small designs.

The bill calling for the E-Label Act read: "As devices become smaller, compliance with physical label requirements can become more difficult and costly.

"Many manufacturers and consumers of licensed devices in the United States would prefer to have the option to provide or receive important Commission labelling information digitally on the screen of the device."

'Common sense'

The E-Label Act, signed by President Barack Obama, will at least alleviate the need to display the logos required by US authorities.

A menu function within the device will display all relevant information instead.

However, companies will, for the time being at least, be required to display the logos of other regulators.

The new law has been welcome by several technology industry trade groups, including the Consumer Electronics Association.

"This is a common-sense approach for the digital age," it said.

"E-labelling would be cost-effective, in keeping with the consumer electronics industry's important ongoing environmental sustainability efforts and a beneficial and innovative use of today's technology."

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