Although a U.S. judge last month dismissed an earlier iteration of the antitrust action, a group of video gamers on Monday filed a new legal challenge to Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) $69 billion offer to acquire “Call of Duty” producer Activision Blizzard Inc (ATVI.O).
The plaintiffs’ initial action was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in March because she found that it lacked sufficient evidence to support arguments that the acquisition would impair industry competition.
The largest-ever deal in the video game business is being challenged, and the court at the time ruled the plaintiffs might re-file their lawsuit. Amended lawsuits can still be dismissed and are still subject to court review.
Redacted claims from Microsoft internal documents, such as a strategy plan and other business reports that were “given directly to the board of directors,” were included in the new 73-page lawsuit. Information from Sony Interactive Entertainment Corp., a rival, was also included in the case.
Microsoft has refuted assertions made by gamers that the proposed merger, which is being scrutinized by regulators in places like the U.S., Europe, and Japan, would reduce competition.
In a statement released on Tuesday, a Microsoft spokeswoman claimed that the updated complaint made “unsupported and absurd allegations about the deal’s impact on competition.” Microsoft claims that their proposed partnership with Activision will “deliver more games to more people.”
A message seeking response was not immediately answered by a plaintiffs’ lawyer.
Private customers may file lawsuits about agreements under American antitrust laws without the involvement of enforcement or regulating bodies.
The gamers’ initial complaint, according to Microsoft’s attorneys, “relied heavily on weak legal arguments based on obsolete Supreme Court judgments,” they wrote in a court filing last week.
The plaintiffs “waited 11 months after the acquisition was disclosed to launch their lawsuit, and then wasted extra months preparing an improbable complaint,” according to Microsoft’s attorneys.
The attorneys for the plaintiffs have served subpoenas on Activision and competitors Nintendo of America Inc. and Sony.
On Wednesday, Corley will have a status conference with the attorneys.
Demartini v. Microsoft Corp., No. 3:22-cv-08991, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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