Europe Inquiry Into Pokémon Distribution

The Topps Company, maker of trading cards and Bazooka bubble gum, said yesterday that the European Union Commission found that the company’s Pokémon stickers and cards might have violated antitrust laws.

The European Commission claimed that Topps’s European unit and distributors used an elaborate strategy to prevent exports from low-price to high-price countries in the European Union.

The company, which is based in New York, said that its European units were planning a full response to the commission’s claim and that it would defend its interests.

The European Commission began its inquiries about the Pokémon products in November 2000. The claim sent to Topps, a document called a statement of objections, represents the first formal step in the investigation.

The company warned in its recent annual report that any adverse outcome could result in a substantial fine.

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