EU antitrust regulators will investigate whether Nike, Comcast’s Universal Studios and Hello Kitty owner Sanrio illegally block some cross-border sales or ban certain online retailers from selling their products.
The European Commission announced the investigations on Wednesday but did not provide details of the sales practices.
“Nike is aware of the European Commission’s investigation and will continue to cooperate with the authorities,” the company said. Universal Studios and Sanrio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The EU move follows a year-long inquiry by its competition authority into e-commerce practices by 1,900 companies, part of a broader strategy to boost online trade and economic growth.
The inquiry found that some companies allow their products to be sold online only by pre-selected distributors, while others use pricing restrictions and even online sales bans to block certain sellers.
“We are going to examine whether the licensing and distribution practices of these three companies may be denying consumers access to wider choice and better deals in the single market,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
Nike is the license rights holder for Barcelona soccer club merchandise, while Sanrio owns the Hello Kitty brand, which adorn items ranging from stationery to clothing.
Universal Studios holds the rights for movies such as Minions and Despicable Me.
The new investigations would cover similar issues to those of the e-commerce inquiry, but also include licensing of rights and offline distribution.
Full Content: Financial Times