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Court declines to halt Meta's acquisition of Within in major setback for FTC

Back in July 2022, Meta slammed the FTC for attempting to block its acquisition of AR/VR fitness studio Within, the company behind the Supernatural fitness app. The regulator claimed that the purchase would reduce competition in the industry, especially considering that Meta is already a very strong competitor in this market. Today, the FTC has suffered a major setback as a U.S. federal court has declined the regulator's request to halt the deal.

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U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose has denied the FTC's demand to block the deal in a sealed court decision made a few hours ago. Although the details of the actual order aren't public yet, they deal a major setback to the regulator while giving Meta a significant boost in the overall process.

The Wall Street Journal says that while the FTC could still attempt to block the deal through a separate lawsuit filed in its in-house administrative court, it has historically dropped such matters once a ruling against it has been issued by a federal court.

In the past, Meta has argued that this acquisition does not create a monopoly as it has already invested billions of dollars to make the VR space more welcoming and open for developers. Then there's also the fact that Meta allows sideloading of apps from other storefronts and links to VR content on the PC. As such, Meta believes that the FTC cannot realistically make a case about how the acquisition of a single fitness app harms the competition. We'll likely find out more details once the court's ruling becomes public and both Meta and the FTC outline their next course of action.

Source: WSJ (paywall)

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