Apple loses copyright battle against security start-up Corellium

Opt-in to Cyber Safety. Multiple layers of protection for your devices, online privacy and more.

Corellium, co-founded in 2017 by husband and wife Amanda Gorton and Chris Wade, was a breakthrough in security research because it gave its customers the ability to run “virtual” iPhones on desktop computers. Corellium’s software makes it unnecessary to use physical iPhones that contain specialized software to poke and prod iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system.

The judge in the case ruled that Corellium’s creation of virtual iPhones was not a copyright violation, in part because it was designed to help improve the security for all iPhone users. Corellium wasn’t creating a competing product for consumers. Rather, it was a research tool for a comparatively small number of customers.

David L. Hecht, founder of law firm Hecht Partners and co-counsel for Corellium, said in a statement: “We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling on fair use and are proud of the strength and resolve that our clients at Corellium have displayed in this important battle. The Court affirmed the strong balance that fair use provides against the reach of copyright protection into other markets, which is a huge win for the security research industry in particular.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the lawsuit, Apple argued that Corellium’s products could be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands because security flaws discovered by Corellium could be used to hack iPhones. Apple also argued that Corellium sells its product indiscriminately, a claim Corellium denied.

Judge Rodney Smith called Apple’s argument on those claims “Puzzling, if not disingenuous.” Smith found that Corellium used a vetting process before selling its products to customers.

Apple initially attempted to acquire Corellium in 2018, according to court records. When the acquisition talks stalled, Apple sued Corellium last year, claiming its virtual iPhones, which contain only the bare-bones functions necessary for security research, constitute a violation of copyright law. Apple also alleged Corellium circumvented Apple’s security measures to create the software, thereby violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That claim has not been thrown out.

“Weighing all the necessary…