US Court Refuses Appeal to Revive Antitrust Lawsuit Against Meta’s Facebook

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A US appeals court on Thursday refused to revive a lawsuit filed by states against Meta’s Facebook that alleged the company had broken antitrust law.

Dozens of states led by New York asked the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last year to reinstate the lawsuit, which US District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia rejected, saying they had waited too long to file.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the states had asked the court in 2020 to order Facebook to sell Instagram, which it bought for $1 billion (nearly Rs. 8,120 crore)  in 2012, and WhatsApp, which it bought for $19 billion (nearly Rs. 1,55,330 crore) in 2014. The FTC case is going forward.

The three-judge unanimous appeals court panel said it agreed that “the states unduly delayed in bringing suit.”

“The States were on notice of Facebook’s two major acquisitions. Both were publicized,” Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote, noting that the FTC had investigated both transactions.

Neither the New York attorney general’s office nor Facebook immediately responded to a request for comment.

In February this year, Meta registered another win as a judge released a ruling denying the Federal Trade Commission’s request to stop Meta Platforms from buying virtual reality content maker Within Unlimited, rejecting the regulator’s concerns the deal would reduce competition in a new market.

A December trial to decide if Meta could go forward with the relatively small deal was seen as a test of the FTC’s bid to head off what it sees as a repeat of the company acquiring small upcoming would-be rivals to dominate a market, this time in the nascent virtual and augmented reality markets.

Judge Edward Davila of the US District Court for the Northern District of California said the FTC had failed to show that Meta would have entered the market to make dedicated fitness content if it was unable to buy Within.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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