Apple has been handed a legal defeat by a US judge in its lawsuit against virtualisation software provider Corellium.

US District Judge Rodney Smith on Tuesday dismissed Apple’s copyright infringement claims against Florida -based Corellium, Reuters reported.

Corellium with its iOS virtualisation tool essentially allows customers to create and interact with virtual iOS devices, all within the browser. The frameworks of an iOS simulator is commonly used by security researchers for example to detect vulnerabilities in iPhones etc.

Corellium lawsuit

Apple had tried to purchase Corellium in January 2018, but talks between the two firms reportedly broke down by the summer of 2018.

Apple then launched a lawsuit against Corellium in August 2019, and in December 2019 it amended the lawsuit to include copyright infringement.

It claimed at the time that the firm was profiting from “perfect replicas” of iOS.

Corellium immediately hit back at Apple in an open letter, and warned that developers and jailbreakers should be “concerned” by Apple’s move.

And this week Judge Smith ruled in favour of Corellium, saying its software emulating the iOS operating system that runs on the iPhone and iPad amounted to “fair use” because it was “transformative” and helped developers find security flaws.

Judge Smith also reportedly said Corellium “adds something new to iOS” by letting users see and halt running processes, take live snapshots, and conduct other operations.

“Corellium’s profit motivation does not undermine its fair use defense, particularly considering the public benefit of the product,” Smith wrote.

The judge also rejected Apple’s argument that the Delray Beach startup acted in bad faith by selling its product indiscriminately, including potentially to hackers, and by not requiring users to report bugs to Apple.

Disingenuous argument?

Judge Smith reportedly said that argument appeared “puzzling, if not disingenuous,” saying Apple did not impose a reporting requirement under its own Bug Bounty Program.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Justin Levine, one of Corellium’s lawyers, said in an email the decision made “proper findings in connection with fair use.”

Judge Smith however said that Apple may still pursue a separate federal law claim that Corellium circumvented its security measures when creating its software.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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