Yesterday, the FTC filed a motion to obtain a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction in its continued effort to hinder Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and today a judge has been assigned to the case.
Perhaps not too surprisingly, considering that the motion was filed with the United States District Court Northern District of California, the judge assigned to rule on the case is Jacqueline Scott Corley. If the name doesn't ring a bell, she's the same judge who already denied the preliminary injunction against the acquisition requested by the plaintiffs in the so-called "Gamer's Lawsuit."
This shouldn't surprise considering that Judge Corley is already familiar with the topic, so she's objectively the best person to handle it, especially considering the urgency requested by the FTC itself. This result is not uncommon when related cases require a ruling.
Of course, this doesn't automatically mean that the result will be the same. While the topic is similar, the substance of the motion is not identical, nor are the parties involved. The FTC is also requesting a temporary restraining order, which is easier to justify than a preliminary injunction. That being said, if the regulator managed to obtain only the temporary restraining order and the preliminary injunction was denied, this would slow down the acquisition only by a limited time.
The FTC has asked via emergency motion for the TRO to be ruled on by June 15, while the decision about the preliminary injunction may take longer. As a result, we'll know soon whether the regulator's effort to hinder the acquisition will be at least partly successful.
Update: Judge Corley ruled in favor of the temporary restraining order until she is given the time to rule on the temporary injunction.
It's worth mentioning once more that, while the mainstream and enthusiast press has often defined the "gamers' lawsuit," as such, we're using the same definition exclusively because it is familiar to the reader, and strictly between quotation marks. it's basically the usual class action instigated by law firms taking advantage of a few individuals in what's essentially an antitrust version of ambulance chasing. It does not represent gamers as a group in any shape or form.
In the meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, a case management conference for Microsoft's appeal against the CMA's decision to block the acquisition was hosted in London yesterday, and the presiding judge conditionally allowed Microsoft to submit expert evidence to support its case.
Recently, the European Union approved the deal including proposed remedies to level the competitive playing field on the cloud market, which Microsoft agreed to. A few weeks ago, we learned that the deal was approved by the Chinese authority, while earlier this week, South Korea's regulator also cleared the deal, bringing the number of countries that officially cleared the acquisition to 38. So far, the FTC and the CMA have been completely isolated in their hostile stance.
In an interview published a few days ago, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick mentioned that Microsoft is “by far the best place" for the publisher, adding that the acquisition is "the right thing for the industry."