A federal judge in the United States has reportedly given approval for tech giant Meta to move forward on acquiring a virtual reality company.
According to a Feb. 1 report from Bloomberg, Judge Edward Davila in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied an injunction by the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, as part of an effort to block Meta from purchasing VR firm Within. However, he also issued a temporary restraining order preventing Meta from closing the deal for at least a week.
The ruling was part of a lawsuit filed by the FTC against Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in July in an attempt to block the tech firm from “its ultimate goal of owning the entire ‘metaverse.’” Meta had planned to purchase Within and its fitness app Supernatural, allegedly to acquire a potential threat to its metaverse plans.
Before rebranding to Meta, Facebook faced a similar “anticompetitive conduct” FTC complaint in 2020 for its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014 and Instagram in 2012 for allegedly stifling innovation by buying the competition. The messaging and photo sharing applications had been potential challengers to Facebook’s Messenger app and social media site.
If successful in its legal efforts, Meta would likely be able to acquire small companies offering metaverse-related products or services and have them operate under its umbrella rather than as competitors. The FTC reportedly has a week to file an appeal to Judge Davila’s decision.
Related: How AI can make the metaverse a more interactive space
Zuckerberg said in a November interview that Meta was “powering through” any doubts regarding its metaverse ambitions. The company reported $3.67 billion in losses for the third quarter of 2022, with expectations that these numbers would increase in 2023. Meta’s earnings report for the fourth quarter of 2022 will be released on Feb. 1.
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