Topps was fined $1.9 million (1.6 million Euros) by the European Commission on Wednesday for attempting to control the flow of its Pokemon products between countries, which had the effect of keeping prices high in some markets. The Commission said that Topps asked its distributors in several EU countries to help it trace parallel imports back to the source, and threatened to cut supply to uncooperative customers. Keeping its distributors within borders kept prices in Finland, for example, twice as high as those in Portugal.
The Commission said that the low amount of the fine was due to the short duration of the offense and to the fact that Topps stopped immediately upon a warning from the Commission.
The stakes were high in the period under examination -- the Commission said that sales of Pokemon stickers, cards, and other collectible products reached 600 million Euros (over $700 million) in Europe in 2000.
Topps isn't the only American company producing card products to run afoul of European regulators recently; Hasbro was fined in 2002 (see 'Hasbro Fined for Price-Fixing').