The European Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites. Google's provision of online search advertising intermediation services to the most commercially important publishers took place via agreements that were individually negotiated.

The Commission has reviewed hundreds of such agreements in the course of its investigation and found that:

(i) Google included exclusivity clauses in its contracts. This meant that publishers were prohibited from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages.

(ii) Google gradually replaced these exclusivity clauses with so-called “Premium Placement” clauses, which meant that third-party websites had to take a minimum number of search ads from Google, and put them on the most visible part of the page.

(iii) Google also included clauses requiring publishers to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

Today's decision concludes that Google is dominant in the market for online search advertising intermediation in the EEA since at least 2006. The Commission finds that Google has abused this market dominance by preventing rivals from competing in the online search advertising intermediation market.

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