Apple drops lawsuit against Corellium’s virtual iOS devices

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Apple drops lawsuit against Corellium
Corellium continues to sell iPhone in your browser.
Photo: Corellium

Apple on Tuesday dropped its intellectual property lawsuit against Corellium, the Florida firm that sells virtual iOS devices. The case was scheduled to go to trial on August 16 after Apple filed to have Corellium closed down in 2019.

Corellium was founded in 2017 by former iPhone jailbreakers. It sells virtual iOS and Android devices, aimed at independent security researchers, that allow customers to run Apple and Google firmware in a web browser.

iPhone virtualization didn’t sit well with Apple, which filed a lawsuit against Corellium in 2019, calling for the business to be closed down. But after years of legal battling, the case has now been settled, according to court records.

Apple settles with Corellium

The development was first reported by The Washington Post, which reports that the terms of the settlement are confidential. It also confirmed with the Corellium sales team that its virtual iOS devices are still available.

“Corellium was previously facing the prospect of years of expensive and drawn out legal action, and many in the security research community saw the lawsuit as having a chilling effect on independent research,” the report notes.

The settlement comes after Apple last year suffered a major setback in its case against Corellium when U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith ruled in the Florida firm’s favor, calling its product an example of “fair use.”

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

A win for security research

Experts consider Corellium’s virtualization business to be vital to security research. It allows testing to be carried out on near-native hardware — servers powered by ARM chips — without compromising real iOS devices.

Earlier this year, a letter from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), signed by 22 different companies in support, called on companies like Apple to cease using copyright laws to hinder security research.

Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director of the EFF, told The Washington Post that a Corellium loss against Apple “could have cast a shadow on the security industry.”

One interesting tidbit that surfaced in the court documents is that Apple attempted to acquire Corellium in 2018. It wasn’t until after the takeover was turned down by Corellium that Apple started legal action.