I was just told by support, "For custom fields, the values from the winning lead will take precedence over the losing lead's values - even if the winning lead's value is currently null. This behavior is expected and there is not currently a plan for us to change that."
I suggest that when the winning value has a custom field value of null and the losing value is populated, Marketo should retain the populated field data instead of purposefully decreasing the data quality of our database by nulling out the data.
I'm sure there are some fields where a blank value is the better value, but in the vast majority of cases a populated field is better than an empty one.
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