Apple loses copyright claims in lawsuit against U.S. security bug startup

Apple loses copyright claims in lawsuit against U.S. security bug startup

A federal judge in Florida on Tuesday dismissed Apple Inc’s infringement of copyright claims against a Florida startup whose software helps security researchers find vulnerabilities in Apple products including the iPhone.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith ruled in favour of Corellium LLC, saying its software emulating the iOS software system that runs on the iPhone and iPad amounted to “fair use” because it absolutely was “transformative” and helped developers find security flaws.

The accusations

Apple accused Corellium of essentially replicating iOS to form “virtual” iOS-operated devices. In which whose “sole function” was to run unauthorized copies of the system on non-Apple hardware.

But the Fort Lauderdale-based judge said Corellium “adds something new iOS” by letting users see and halt running processes, take live snapshots, and conduct other operations.

“Corellium’s profit motivation doesn’t undermine its use defence, particularly considering the general public benefit of the merchandise,” 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.

He said that argument appeared “puzzling, if not disingenuous,” saying Cupertino, California-based Apple failed to impose a reporting requirement under its own Bug Bounty Program.

Apple didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

Corellium’s response

Corellium has denied wrongdoing. Justin Levine, one of its lawyers, said in an email the choice made “proper findings in connection with fair use.”

Smith said Apple should still pursue a separate federal law claim. That Corellium circumvented its security measures when creating its software.

According to court records, Corellium was founded in Aug 2017. Apple had tried to buy Corellium starting in January 2018, but the talks had broken down by summer. Apple sued Corellium in Aug. 2019.

The case is Apple Inc v. Corellium LLC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 19-81160.


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