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FTC files for an injunction against Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard [Update]

The Microsoft and Activision Blizzard logos

Update: CNBC now reports that the FTC has indeed filed for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block the possibility of Microsoft closing the deal to buy Activision Blizzard by July 18. The report states:

“A preliminary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and prevent interim harm to competition during the pendency of the FTC’s administrative proceeding to determine whether the Proposed Acquisition violates U.S. antitrust law,” the FTC said in a filing. “A temporary restraining order is necessary to maintain the status quo while this Court decides whether to grant the requested preliminary injunction.”

Original story: A new report claims the US Federal Trade Commission may file an injunction in court designed to block Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard from being completed before its July 18 deadline.

The CNBC report, citing unnamed sources, says that while the FTC has already filed a lawsuit against the $69 billion deal in December 2022, this new injunction is sort of an insurance policy against Microsoft closing the deal. The case is set to be heard by an internal administrative law judge sometime in July. If that judge makes a decision against Microsoft, the company can still appeal its case to a federal judge.

Microsoft's president Brad Smith is quoted in the article, ahead of the filing, stating:

We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court. We believe accelerating the legal process in the U.S will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market.

Microsoft is already facing an uphill battle to close this deal. The UK Competition and Markets Authority decided not to approve the purchase in April. It claimed Microsoft would have an unfair competitive advantage in the cloud gaming market if the acquisition with Activision Blizzard were completed. Microsoft is currently appealing that decision.

On Sunday, Xbox head Phil Spencer stated to the media he was still "confident" that the purchase of Activision Blizzard would go through. He added, "We're out there to find solutions with the regulators that have questions, and that's what we're actively doing."

Microsoft has been trying to offer game cloud market remedies, including offering its games to competing cloud gaming providers. On Sunday, Microsoft said that "select" PC Games Pass games would be available on the NVIDIA GeForce Now gaming service sometime in the coming months. Details about the list of games, and how gamers would access them, have not yet been revealed.

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