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Appeals Court Sides With Corellium in Apple Copyright Case

US appeals court sides with Corellium in the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Apple against the company over its security research tools.

A US appeals court on Monday sided with Corellium in the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Apple against the company over its security research tools.

The lawsuit was initially filed by Apple against Corellium in 2019, when the tech giant accused the Florida-based virtualization company of copyright infringement related to a product that replicates the iOS operating system.

Corellium provides a virtual iPhone — including the graphical interface and the underlying code for the iOS operating system — that is advertised as a tool designed for finding vulnerabilities and other types of bugs, as well as for testing mobile applications on different versions of devices and operating systems. 

Apple’s lawsuit has focused on copyright, alleging that Corellium doesn’t have permission or a license to use its products. 

“Far from assisting in fixing vulnerabilities, Corellium encourages its users to sell any discovered information on the open market to the highest bidder,” Apple said in its initial complaint.

Corellium responded and later accused Apple of suing it after a failed acquisition attempt. A few months later, Apple filed an amended complaint, increasing the focus on the use of Corellium’s tool for jailbreaking. 

In December 2020, a federal judge dismissed Apple’s copyright infringement lawsuit against Corellium. 

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However, that was not the end of it. In August 2021, just days after it was reported that Apple had settled a lawsuit against Corellium, the tech giant filed an appeal

There are three counts in the copyright lawsuit: direct infringement of iOS, direct infringement of icons and wallpapers, and contributory infringement. 

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit said on Monday that a lower court should reconsider claims related to contributory infringement, as well as icons and wallpapers, but sided with Corellium on the iOS copyright allegations, arguing that the security firm is “shielded by the fair use doctrine”. 

“First, Corellium’s virtualization software is transformative — it furthers scientific progress by allowing security research into important operating systems. Second, iOS is functional operating software that falls outside copyright’s core. Third, Corellium didn’t overhelp itself to Apple’s software. And fourth, Corellium’s product does not substantially harm the market for iOS or iOS derivatives — so Apple’s own incentive to innovate remains strong,” judges ruled.

Related: Companies Increasingly Hit With Data Breach Lawsuits: Law Firm

Related: Google Wins Lawsuit Against Glupteba Botnet Operators

Related: Rackspace Hit With Lawsuits Over Ransomware Attack

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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