Apple has lost a copyright infringement case against Corellium, a startup that lets users run iOS firmware in a web browser for testing purposes.
Apple sued the former iPhone jailbreakers behind Corellium in August 2019. “There is no basis for Corellium to be selling a product that allows the creation of avowedly perfect replicas of Apple’s devices to anyone willing to pay,” Apple lawyers argued. Apple said that Corellium “copied everything: the code, the graphical user interface, the icons — all of it, in exacting detail.”
Corellium, meanwhile, had argued that, “By replacing racks of physical devices with a single virtual platform, Corellium empowers software engineers to test, teach, research, and develop more efficiently and more effectively. Apple cannot be genuinely concerned it will lose smartphone market share to Corellium, because Corellium’s technology is in no way a market substitute for Apple’s products.”
Agreeing with Corellium on copyright
It seemed that the federal judge presiding over the case in Florida agreed with Corellium’s argument. U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith, ruling in favor of Corellium Tuesday, said that this was an example of “fair use” on the part of Corellium.
This means it comes under the fair use rules by being transformative. Transformative use cases require that it performs a different purpose than the original, and doesn’t substitute for the original work.
In this case, Judge Smith said that Corellium helped developers to discover security flaws. “Corellium’s profit motivation does not undermine its fair use defense, particularly considering the public benefit of the product,” Smith wrote.
Apple still has the option of pursuing a separate federal lawsuit, arguing that Corellium circumvented Apple security measures when it created its software. Apple tried to buy Corellium in January 2018. However, talks broke down the summer before Apple sued the company.