The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled on Sony’s motion to ban Microsoft from searching its internal documents related to the Activision Blizzard deal. The Japanese publisher will now have to mostly comply with the subpoena.

Microsoft will gain access to Sony's internal docs and exclusivity agreements as part of Activision Blizzard case

FTC chief administrative law judge D. Michael Chappell issued an order on motion of Sony to limit Microsoft’s subpoena filed earlier this year.

The Redmond-based corporation wanted access to certain Sony documentation ahead of the upcoming federal trial over its Activision Blizzard acquisition. The Japanese company later tried to challenge the subpoena, calling it “obvious harassment”.

However, the judge eventually rejected almost all of Sony’s requests, ordering it to comply with the majority of Microsoft’s subpoena.

  • The FTC rejected Sony’s request to limit the number of custodians. The publisher tried to argue that viewing some of the documents of its executives would be “time-consuming and expensive” because, for example, the files of its CFO Lin Tao are mostly in Japanese, but the judge found this argument unfounded.
  • On the other hand, Sony was allowed to not disclose documents related to “performance reviews or evaluations” of SIE CEO Jim Ryan due to this information being irrelevant to the case.
  • Microsoft will be granted access to Sony’s exclusivity agreements with third-party publishers since January 1, 2019. The Japanese company argued that it would have to manually review over 150k contract documents, but the judge considered this figure clearly exaggerated and noted that it wouldn’t be difficult for Sony to determine its content licensing partners by digitally searching its records.

To sum the ruling up, both Microsoft and the FTC will be able to search Sony’s internal documents related to the Activision Blizzard deal. The company will also access some of PlayStation’s exclusivity agreements with other publishers, excluding all information until 2019.

The beginning of the FTC trial is scheduled for August 2, with a decision not expected until early 2024. The $68.7 billion deal is yet to be approved in the UK and Europe, where regulators are now conducting their in-depth investigations.

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