FTC Moves To Appeal This Week’s Microsoft/Activision Blizzard Court Decision

Following Microsoft’s recent win against the Federal Trade Committee in US federal court, the company may once again be taken to the stand. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has moved to appeal the recent court order ruling not to grant the temporary injunction on Microsoft that the FTC was seeking.

As reported by The Verge, the FTC has filed a notice that the committee is appealing Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley’s decision. The FTC’s full argument against the decision will not be revealed until the appeal is submitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

This news comes a mere day after Microsoft won its court battle against the FTC, with Judge Corley ultimately ruling that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard would not “substantially lessen competition” in the games industry.

“The Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition,” Judge Corley wrote in the ruling. “To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content.”

Had the FTC won this case, Microsoft would have faced an injunction, temporarily halting the deal until the conclusion of the FTC’s antitrust case against Microsoft that is slated to begin on August 2. As it stands now, the FTC must convince the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an emergency stay to extend the current temporary restraining order that is set to expire on Friday, July 14. If the appeals court fails to rule before the deal deadline on July 18, it is possible Microsoft could successfully close the deal on acquiring Activision Blizzard as early as next week.

Xbox Gaming CEO Phil Spencer seemed optimistic about the future of the deal in a series of tweets issued shortly after the court’s ruling, writing, “The evidence showed the Activision Blizzard deal is good for the industry and the FTC’s claims about console switching, multi-game subscription services, and cloud don’t reflect the realities of the gaming market. Since we first announced this deal, our commitment to bringing more games to more people on more devices has only grown. We’ve signed multiple agreements to make Activision Blizzard’s games, Xbox first party games and Game Pass all available to more players than they are today. We know that players around the world have been watching this case closely and I’m proud of our efforts to expand player access and choice throughout this journey.”

When GameSpot reached out to Activision Blizzard regarding the FTC’s appeal, a company representative stated, “The facts haven’t changed. We’re confident the U.S. will remain among the 39 countries where the merger can close. We look forward to reinforcing the strength of our case in court, again.”

Even if the company’s ongoing tussle with the FTC goes in its favor, Microsoft still has a few more hurdles to clear. The company remains under scrutiny by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), who moved to block the deal over concerns about its impact on the cloud gaming market. Following the latest ruling, however, the CMA stated it is willing to renegotiate its current stance.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors.
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