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EU fines Hello Kitty owner $7 million in antitrust ruling

The Associated Press

A model dressed as Hello Kitty waits for guests to pose for souvenir photos at Sanrio Puroland, a theme park featuring Hello Kitty, in Tokyo in October 2014.

The Associated PressBRUSSELS (AP) — European Union authorities on Tuesday fined the 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 ($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.“Sanrio fully accepts the European Commission's decision and remains committed to enforcing and enhancing our compliance program,” it said in a statement.Speech

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