The struggles to get Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard over the line aren’t just playing out at government watchdogs and in the public eye, but in courtrooms as well. And in one of those battlegrounds, Microsoft is making demands of its rival Sony that the latter say constitute “obvious harassment”.
Via Axios’ newsletter, a series of court documents have been filed over the last couple of weeks detailing some of the legal skirmishes currently playing out between Microsoft, who want to complete the blockbuster deal, and Sony, who are one of a number of companies and organisations who absolutely do not want this to happen.
These particular filings are about Sony’s attempts to fight the proposed sale, and that as part of their defence Microsoft is entitled to “discovery”, which is basically just letting them get hold of a load of documents and emails from certain Sony executives. Both companies have been haggling over the number of executives this will include and the scope of the discovery for ages, but things took a turn earlier this month when Microsoft accused Sony of first stalling, and then not providing all the information they might need:
Sony Interactive Entertainment (“SIE”)—whose gaming business has dwarfed Xbox’s for 20 years—is not an ordinary third party in this action. At great expense and over an extended period, SIE has deployed delegations of executives, large teams of outside lawyers, and highpriced economists to persuade regulators here and around the world to block Microsoft Corp.’s
(“Microsoft’s”) proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. SIE’s efforts are paying off: The FTC’s complaint in this action is chock-full of allegations about the effects the deal will have on SIE’s business. This case is as much about SIE as it is about Xbox and Activision. Timely discovery from SIE is therefore critical to Microsoft’s defense.
Though SIE’s motion for an extension of time complains about the breadth of the subpoena and the length of the extensions already granted for it to respond to that subpoena, Microsoft already told SIE it would consent to a fourth extension of time to negotiate issues related to the scope of the subpoena’s requests. But Microsoft believes that court intervention is required now on one issue: whether SIE will collect and produce documents from certain custodians.
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In response, Sony said that they hadn’t supplied all the information Microsoft were requesting because they were being asked for way too much, including things like access to internal performance reviews, something Sony say “is obvious harassment”, and that “even in employment cases courts require a specific showing of relevance before requiring production of personnel files.”
All of which is only mildly interesting, I know, but I bring this up mostly so we can just link to both Microsoft and Sony’s motions, which are full of some incredible self-owns, like Microsoft saying PlayStation’s success “has dwarfed Xbox’s for 20 years”, along with some very funny wordage in Sony’s filing, like the way they say Microsoft’s subpoena was, like, “truly massive”.
Update 5:22am ET, February 10: Removed mention of the “MOTION TO LIMIT OR QUASH SUBPOENA” as the matter is still ongoing.