A proposed bill before the Arizona House of Representatives could have big implications for Epic Games’ legal battle against Apple and Google over Fortnite. If it is ultimately passed into law, it could create another facet for the ongoing litigation between the software giants.
The Verge reports that an amendment to Arizona’s HB2005 prevents app stores in the state from forcing developers to use their preferred payment system. In practice, that would mean that Apple and Google can’t require Epic Games or other software developers to go through their own proprietary payment systems for in-app purchases.
The legislation places the restriction on stores exceeding 1 million downloads, which would include Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, and bars those companies from retaliating against developers who use third-party payment systems. It also applies to state residents, keeping them from being required to use exclusive payment methods. It carves out an exemption for game consoles and other “special-purpose devices.”
The amendment made its way through the Arizona House Appropriations Committee last week before going to a full House vote this week. Arizona Democrats have argued that the state legislature shouldn’t insert itself into the middle of a legal battle between the software companies. Now that it has passed the House, it will go to the state senate and then, if passed there, to Governor Doug Ducey.
If successfully passed into law, it will represent another wrinkle in the legal feud between Apple and Google. It could very well impact both companies’ business in the state, though it may also lead to further legal action.
The bill was endorsed by the Coalition for App Fairness, an industry group started by Epic Games and other tech companies impacted by Apple and Google’s practices.
“The Coalition for App Fairness is pleased to see the House passage of HB 2005, which will encourage business innovation in Arizona and protect consumer choice,” the CAF said in a statement. “While this is cause for celebration, it is only a first step toward achieving a truly level playing field for all.” We look forward to working with the Arizona State Senate to move a solution forward that builds on this momentum to provide consumer freedom, lower costs, and increase developers’ ability to thrive and innovate.”
Other similar bills have been proposed in Georgia, Hawaii, and Minnesota, due to lobbying from the CAF. One such proposed bill failed to pass in North Dakota.
The legal battle began when Epic Games updated its Fortnite app on mobile devices in such a way that circumvented Apple and Google’s in-app payment systems, with a discount offered for using the alternative method. The app was quickly pulled, and Epic responded with an apparently ready-to-go PR blitz featuring in-game Fortnite events and a short film. The Epic vs Apple trial is set to begin on May 3.
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