A US judge set a hearing for the following week after granting the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request to temporarily halt Microsoft Corp.’s acquisition of video game developer Activision Blizzard.
A brief about a US court temporarily prohibits Microsoft from purchasing Activision
On June 22–23 in San Francisco, US District Judge Edward Davila set up a two-day evidentiary hearing to address the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction. Microsoft could have completed the $69 billion transaction as early as Friday without a court ruling.
Early in December, the FTC, which upholds antitrust law, petitioned an administrative judge to halt the purchase. The administrative proceeding’s evidence hearing is scheduled to start on August 2.
The federal court will determine if a preliminary injunction, which would continue throughout the administrative review of the case, is required based on the results of the late-June hearing. On Monday, the FTC requested the temporary ban.
The temporary restraining order issued on Tuesday, according to Davila, “is necessary to maintain the status quo while the complaint is pending (and) preserve this court’s ability to order effective relief in the event it determines a preliminary injunction is warranted and preserve the FTC’s ability to obtain an effective permanent remedy in the event that it prevails in its pending administrative proceeding.”
By June 16, Microsoft (MSFT) and Activision (ATVI) must provide their legal defences against a preliminary injunction; the FTC must respond by June 20.
Activision, which claimed on Monday that the FTC’s move to seek an order from a federal court was “a welcome update & one that accelerates the legal process,” declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Microsoft stated that “sped up legal proceedings in the US will ultimately increase choice and competition in the gaming market. It makes logical to get a temporary restraining order while we wait for the court’s ruling, which is coming quickly.
The FTC chose not to respond.
According to Davila, the prohibition from shutting will last for at least five days following the court’s decision about the request for a preliminary injunction.
The FTC has contended that the deal would deny Nintendo consoles and Sony Group Corp.’s PlayStation access to Activision titles, giving Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access.
The EU accepted Microsoft’s acquisition proposal of “Call of Duty” video game producer in May, while the British competition authorities blocked the deal in April.
Microsoft has proposed to sign a legally enforceable consent decree with the FTC to provide “Call of Duty” games to rivals like Sony for a decade and has claimed that the deal will benefit both players and gaming firms.
The case exemplifies the administration of US President Joe Biden’s tough stance on antitrust enforcement.