U.S. FTC asks judge to pause Meta deal for VR company Within

Headquarters of Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc in Mountain View
A security guard stands watch by the Meta sign outside the headquarters of Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc in Mountain View, California, U.S. November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Peter DaSilva

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday asked a judge to put a hold on Meta Platforms Inc's (META.O) deal to buy virtual reality app maker Within Unlimited while the two sides await a decision from the court.

The FTC sued the Facebook and Instagram owner in July to stop the Within deal and asked the judge to order a preliminary injunction, saying Meta's "campaign to conquer VR" began in 2014 when it acquired Oculus, a VR headset manufacturer. There was a trial on the case in December.

The agency asked for the court to order Meta to refrain from closing its deal for Within until 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on the first business day after the judge rules on whether the deal may go forward. Or, the agency said in a court filing, the judge could extend the existing temporary restraining order for 7 days.

The current restraining order expires at 11:59 Pacific time Tuesday night.

The fight to determine if Meta could go forward with this relatively small deal is 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 secure dominance, this time in the nascent virtual and augmented reality markets.

Reporting by Diane Bartz Editing by Nick Zieminski

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