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Microsoft catches a break in their pursuit to acquire game publisher Activision Blizzard as Judge denies the FTC's motion to stop the acquisition

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It's being reported this morning that a federal judge in San Francisco has denied the Federal Trade Commission’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Microsoft from completing acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard.

The deal isn’t completely in the clear, though. The FTC can now file its appeal of the decision to federal appellate court, and the two companies must find a way forward to resolve opposition from the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom.

“This Court’s responsibility in this case is narrow. It is to decide if, notwithstanding these current circumstances, the merger should be halted—perhaps even terminated—pending resolution of the FTC administrative action,” Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley wrote in her decision, published on Tuesday. “For the reasons explained, 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. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content. The motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore DENIED.”

“Our merger will benefit consumers and workers. It will enable competition rather than allow entrenched market leaders to continue to dominate our rapidly growing industry,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.

Microsoft also hailed the decision. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and vice chair stated in a press release that "We’re grateful to the court in San Francisco for this quick and thorough decision and hope other jurisdictions will continue working towards a timely resolution. As we’ve demonstrated consistently throughout this process, we are committed to working creatively and collaboratively to address regulatory concerns."

After the ruling, an FTC spokesperson stated: "We are disappointed in this outcome given the clear threat this merger poses to open competition in cloud gaming, subscription services, and consoles. In the coming days we’ll be announcing our next step to continue our fight to preserve competition and protect consumers." For more, read the full CNBC report.

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