On Wednesday, European Union anti-trust body charged the owner of Hello Kitty, Sanrio, a fine of €6.2million over the breach of competition rules. The Japanese company has been illegally preventing competition by blocking merchants from selling its products across EU bloc, which is one market.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, “Consumers, whether they are buying a Hello Kitty mug or a Chococat toy, can now take full advantage of one of the main benefits of the EU’s single market: the ability to shop around Europe for the best deals.”
EU is rigorously working towards implementing competition rules, in order to wipe out companies which restrict or prevent a manufacturer or retailer from selling official merchandise cross-border and on multiple e-platforms.
Fionn Uíbh Eachach, an Indirect Tax Partner with BDO, said, “One of the cornerstones of the European Union is the free movement of goods within the Single Market, something Hello Kitty was found to have been actively working against.”
The company famous for its cat-like icon, founded in 1974, has transformed into a multi-million dollar industry over the years. Today its merchandise can found in over 130 countries on more than 50,000 branded products every year.
Besides Hello Kitty, Nike and Universal Studio were also fined over similar charges. In March, the commission charged Nike with the penalty of €12.5 million, whereas decision regarding Universal Studios is still on hold. EU makes sure that consumers’ right to the competition is safeguarded, both in terms of choice and price, which was one of the key objectives behind the EU Single Market.