The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has opened an investigation into suspected anticompetitive arrangements relating to online sales of licensed sport and entertainment merchandise and other consumer products.

The opening of the investigation follows raids on December 1, 2015 at the headquarters of Trod Limited, a UK retailer of toys and sports products (doing business as Buy 4 Less, Buy For Less, and Buy-For-Less-Online).  The house of one of the company’s officers was also searched.

The CMA expects to reach a decision on whether to proceed with the investigation or close it in April 2016.  Until then, the CMA will continue gathering information (including through information requests).

The searches were also conducted on behalf of the US Department of Justice (“DoJ”) in the context of a separate investigation into a potential price fixing arrangement.  The DOJ’s website indicates that its investigation concerns (i) potential discussions between Trod and co-conspirators about the prices of certain posters sold in the US through Amazon Marketplace and (ii) potential agreement by the companies involved to adopt specific pricing algorithms for the sale of certain posters, in order to coordinate prices.

The two investigations remain separate – while the UK launched a civil probe, the US investigation is criminal (targeting both companies and individuals).