BRUSSELS–The European Union’s antitrust regulator on Wednesday opened three separate formal investigations into licensing and distribution practices by Nike Inc., Sanrio Co. and Universal Studios in Europe, the latest salvo by the watchdog in its bid to tear down barriers for consumers shopping online in the bloc.
The European Commission said it would investigate whether the three companies restrict traders from selling licensed merchandise online and across borders in Europe.
The companies license the rights for well-known brands to manufacturers of shoes, clothing, phone accessories, toys and other products. Nike NKE, -3.40% licenses the rights for Fútbol Club Barcelona’s merchandise, while Sanrio 8136, +2.24% is the licensor of rights for Hello Kitty. Universal Studios, a unit of Comcast Corp.’sCMCSA, -0.39% NBCUniversal, is the licensor of rights for the movies “Minions” and “Despicable Me,” the EU said.
The probe comes after the commission’s competition directorate in May published the findings of its two-year long probe into the e-commerce sector. The EU then reiterated previous warnings that consumer-product makers and digital-content owners could face antitrust probes for restricting the way retailers sell the companies’ goods online.
Sanrio and Universal Studios didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment