Dozens of U.S. states back FTC challenge to Meta’s Within deal

  • Some states are briefly pursuing other antitrust cases against Meta, Google
  • Meta said there is “vibrant competition” in the virtual reality market

(Reuters) – Twenty-three states, including New York and California, said Monday they support the US Federal Trade Commission’s bid to block Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc from selling virtual reality content maker Within Unlimited Inc to buy, saying the deal would reduce competition and harm in the industry to consumers.

The states filed their friend-of-the-court brief in federal court in San Jose, California, where in July the FTC asked a federal judge to bar Meta’s acquisition of Los Angeles-based Within. Facebook last year agreed to buy private company Within, developers of popular virtual reality-based fitness app Supernatural.

“Meta’s acquisition of Within may significantly reduce competition and tends to create a monopoly by eliminating both perceived and actual potential competition,” the states said in their amicus brief, issued Tuesday on the filing’s approval a dish awaited. The states, joined by the District of Columbia and Guam, said the deal threatened “damaging competition in the burgeoning virtual reality space.”

A meta spokesman on Tuesday called the FTC’s antitrust complaint “ill-conceived” and said the states amicus letter “does not change the fact that there is vigorous competition in the VR space.”

Meta has opposed the amicus filing as premature, but prosecutors said there was no set deadline for filing from friendly courts.

The New York Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment, and neither did a spokesman for the FTC.

Meta has dismissed the FTC’s allegations and asked U.S. District Judge Edward Davila to deny the agency’s request for an injunction and dismiss the lawsuit.

New York is pursuing a separate antitrust lawsuit against Meta over its 2012 purchase of Instagram for $1 billion and its 2014 purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion.

Attorneys for New York petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in September to reinstate the states’ suits after a US District Court judge dismissed the case.

Utah, which also signed the amicus brief, is leading a group of states in an antitrust lawsuit over the way Google operates its app store.

Google has dismissed the states’ claims, saying that Google Play offers openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t offer.”

The case is Federal Trade Commission v. Meta Platforms Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 5:22-cv-04325.

For the Federal Trade Commission: Abby Dennis of the FTC

For Meta: Eric Hochstadt of Weil, Gotshal & Manges; and Mark Hansen of Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick

Continue reading:

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