EU fines Hello Kitty owner $7 million in antitrust ruling

FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 file photo, a model dressing as Japanese character Hello Kitty waits for guests to pose for a souvenir photo at Sanrio Puroland, a theme park featuring Hello Kitty in Tokyo. European Union antitrust authorities have fined the Japanese company behind Hello Kitty for restricting cross-border sales of toys, mugs, bags and other products featuring the cartoon cat girl. The EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said Sanrio was fined 6.2 million euros ($7 million) because the company violated the bloc’s competition rules.

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union authorities on Tuesday fined the Japanese company behind Hello Kitty for restricting cross-border online sales of toys, mugs, bags and other products featuring the cartoon cat girl.

The EU's antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said that Sanrio Co. was fined 6.2 million euros ($7 million) because the company violated the bloc's competition rules with licensing agreements that banned traders from selling merchandise in different countries in the bloc.

The commission found Sanrio's illegal practices were in force for 11 years until December.

Restricting cross-border sales "leads to less choice and potentially higher prices for consumers and is against EU antitrust rules," Vestager said.

EU authorities launched their investigation in 2017, alongside probes into Nike and Universal Studios, as they ratcheted up scrutiny of e-commerce as part of efforts to foster a "digital single market."

Sanrio said Wednesday the fine will be recorded as an extraordinary loss in its fiscal first quarter financial statement. The company has cooperated with the investigation, it said from Tokyo.

Sign up for The Daily Nonpareil Newsletter

Receive stories like this everyday to your email. Sign up for our daily newsletters here.

"Sanrio fully accepts the European Commission's decision and remains committed to enforcing and enhancing our compliance program," it said in a statement.

Created in 1974, the bewhiskered, mouthless Hello Kitty has become a global icon with fans of all ages. Sanrio says she can be found on 50,000 different branded products sold in 130 countries. The company also owns rights to other animated characters including the "Mr. Men" and "Little Miss" series.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Locations

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.