Are Nike, Universal Studios and Sanrio blocking free competition?

Are Nike, Universal Studios and Sanrio blocking free competition?

A week after Brussels targeted American clothing brand Guess, Nike, Universal Studios and Sanrio are now also being examined. They all may have breached the European Union’s regulations regarding sales across borders and online sales.

Barcelona, Hello Kitty, Minions & co

The Commission is investigating whether Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios are restricting cross border and online sales of merchandising products”, Margrethe Vestager said. The European Commissioner in charge of competition policy wants to investigate whether these three companies have willingly placed restriction on their online and cross-border sales inside of the Single Market.


Exclusive contracts with license holders, limited to their own country and only for offline sales, are part of their strategy. For instance, the three companies hand out licenses for shoes, phone accessories, clothing and toys branded with FC Barcelona (Nike), Hello Kitty (Sanrio) and Minions / Despicable Me (Universal Studios). 


The Commissioner emphasizes that no breaches have been established, but also points out that European consumers should have the freedom to buy where they want and at the best possible price. “That is one of the European Single Market’s foundations.”


Vestager also ordered the European Bureau of Competition to conduct a similar investigation into American fashion brand Guess’ activities recently and Philips, Asus, Denon & Marantz and Pioneer were also subject of the same type of investigation regarding consumer electronics in February.