US judge temporarily blocks Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

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A US district judge on Tuesday approved the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request to temporarily block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction will be the subject of a two-day evidentiary hearing in San Francisco on June 22–23, according to U.S. District Judge Edward Davila. Microsoft could have completed the $69 billion acquisition as early as Friday without a court ruling.

The Federal Court will take its decision about the need for a preliminary injunction, which will be in effect throughout the administrative review of the case, based on the outcome of the upcoming hearing.

According to Davila, “It 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.”

Both Microsoft and Activision are required to present legal arguments opposing the preliminary injunction by FTC by June 16 and the FTC is required to respond by June 20.

“A preliminary injunction is necessary to prevent interim harm while the FTC determines whether the proposed acquisition violates US antitrust law,” the FTC said in its filing, as reported by Reuters.

According to FTC’s claims, the deal will give Microsoft access to various lucrative IPs of Activision Blizzard which will make it hard for competitors like Nintendo and Sony to compete, giving Microsoft an advantage in the gaming market.

FTC, along with UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), are two of the biggest hurdles for Microsoft despite the deal being approved by several other countries like China, Brazil, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Japan, South Africa, and Ukraine.

Microsoft has claimed again and again that the deal will benefit gamers as they will have an easier access at a cheaper price in a single place and the company does not intend to make any of the current games exclusive.