(Reuters) - Microsoft cleared a major hurdle in its planned $69 billion purchase of videogame maker Activision Blizzard, as a judge gave a thumbs-up to the proposed deal a week before the July 18 termination date.
With the first fight in federal court in California wrapped up, the agency and companies have decisions to make about what comes next.
Here are potential ways the U.S. fight may play out:
* Now that Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has refused to grant the preliminary injunction, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may drop the fight. This happened most recently with Meta Platforms' purchase of VR content maker Within Unlimited. The FTC lost in federal court and dropped the internal challenge.
* Or the agency may choose to challenge Corley's ruling in a federal appeals court. An administrative law judge at the FTC is scheduled to hear arguments about the deal in August.
If the case goes to Michael Chappell, an FTC judge, as scheduled in August, here are the potential outcomes:
* If Microsoft wins, the FTC staff can ask Chair Lina Khan and the commissioners, who voted to bring the case, to overturn the verdict. The next stop after that would be a federal appeals court. When Chappell ruled against the agency in Illumina's acquisition of Grail, Khan and commissioners overturned the decision and the case is now before an appeals court.
* If the FTC wins, the companies can appeal to the commission to overturn the decision and, if needed, take the case to a federal appeals court.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis and David Gregorio)