While the $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft has been consumed, the attorneys behind the so-called "gamers lawsuit" have attempted to score a last-minute point in their favor, and failed.
Just before the closure of the merger, the plaintiffs filed a "motion to hold separate" asking for a hearing on November 16 with the Northern District of California.
Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, who should by now be known to those who have followed the case even in passing, concluded that the hearing is unnecessary and outright denied the motion.
The motion had the goal to preclude Microsoft from merging any of Activision's business units with its own, or from taking any action that would irreparably harm Activision's ability to compete as an independent company until Plaintiffs could be heard on the merits.
Judge Corley explains in her order that Plaintiffs offered "no legal basis" for their motion. She had already considered and denied their request for a preliminary injunction, and there is no basis for reconsideration.
On top of that, the Plaintiff's appeal against the denial of their preliminary injunction is pending, and the Court is divested of jurisdiction over the matters on appeal.
The Court also noted that Microsoft intended to maintain Activision as a subsidiary, but it did not order Microsoft to stick to that intention, and the Plaintiffs themselves have not requested such an order before.
Instead, they have waited for five months until the eve of the merger's closing to ask for it, with a hearing well after the closure of the merger.
While they argue that the "hold separate" order is necessary to preserve a divestiture as a remedy should they ultimately win the case, they could and should have argued that earlier. Judge Corley concludes that they offered no basis for such an extraordinary relief now.
If you're not familiar with the lawsuit, it has been improperly called "Gamers' Lawsuit" by the media echoing the claims of their promoters, the San Francisco-based Joseph Saveri Law Firm and Alioto Law Firm.
They represent a handful of self-identified "consumers of video games" in an attempt to stop the merger claiming that it would harm competition, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and so forth.
Of course, the definition "Gamers' Lawsuit" is improper, as this is pretty much an antitrust equivalent of ambulance chasing promoted by law firms taking advantage of a few "gamers," and doesn't represent gamers as a group at all. We're using that definition here between obligatory quotation marks simply because it's familiar to our readers.
On the other hand, the case that sees Microsoft and Activision Blizzard facing the FTC in front of an administrative court is ongoing, with the regulator seeking to investigate the deals with Playstation and Ubisoft and how they affect competition.