[Photo courtesy of Sanrio Co.]
Hello Kitty owner Sanrio Co. was fined 6.2 million euros ($7 million) by the European Commission on Tuesday for illegally restricting the sale of licensed products across national borders within the European Union.
Tokyo-based Sanrio, whose feline character is popular with both children and adults, prevented licensed traders in EU countries from selling various products to other countries within the bloc for around 11 years through last December, the executive body of the union said.
“Today’s decision confirms that traders who sell licensed products cannot be prevented from selling products in a different country. This leads to less choice and potential higher prices for consumers and is against EU antitrust rules,” Margarethe Vestager, European commissioner in charge of competition policy, said in a statement.
The commission cut the fine by 40 percent in return for Sanrio cooperating with the investigation.
Created in 1974, Hello Kitty is one of Japan’s most well-known characters abroad.