The EU's top anti-trust regulator on Wednesday fined Hello Kitty owner Sanrio €6.2 million euros for illegally blocking retailers from selling merchandise across bloc borders.
"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," said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
The relatively low fine came as a result of Sanrio's cooperation in the case, which was jointly launched against Nike and Universal Studio.
In March, the commission fined Nike €12.5 million, with no decision yet taken against Universal.
The case is part of the EU's ambition to build a digital single market across the union of 28 countries and 500 million people, which as a bloc is the world's biggest economy.
The commission is especially keen to fight companies that break EU competition rules by restricting a manufacturer's or retailer's ability to sell licensed merchandise cross-border and online.
"One of the cornerstones of the European Union is the free movement of goods within the Single Market, something Hello Kitty were found to have been actively working against," said Fionn Uíbh Eachach, Indirect Tax Partner with BDO.
"The fine levied today, and a similar fine levied on Nike back in March, sends a strong signal to other businesses operating in the EU that consumers must be afforded the right of competition in terms of choice and price – one of the principal underpinnings of the EU Single Market."
Hello Kitty, Japan's moon-faced icon of cute, has spawned a multi-billion-dollar industry since Sanrio introduced her in 1974.
The mouthless character, with her child-like hair bow and a registered height of five apples, is now found in 130 countries on more than 50,000 branded products every year, according to Sanrio.