Apple loses early challenges in Corellium’s copyright lawsuit

Apple lost an early challenge in its lawsuit against Corellium, a security firm that offers a virtualized version of iOS for security testing. Ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the judge leading the case dismissed Apple’s claim of copyright infringement over Corellium’s software and found that Corellium’s use of Apple Code entailed fair use. The judge has ruled on a separate Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) charge, but the result is still a significant setback for the iPhone maker’s lawsuit. The news was first reported by The Washington Post.

In particular, the judge found that additional features in Corellium’s instrument reinforce the case for fair use, in particular the ability to change the core or observe and stop processes.

“Corellium is making several changes to iOS and contains its own code to create a product that has a transforming purpose,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “Corellium’s profit motivation therefore does not undermine the defense of fair use, especially when the public benefit of the product is taken into account.”

Most importantly, the court did not dismiss all of Apple’s case. Apple claimed that Corellium had bypassed its authentication server and secure startup chain, among other things, violating the DMCA’s ban on circumventing copy protection measures. Corellium also has a reasonable use defense against the DMCA charges, but the judge does not find it compelling enough to dismiss the DMCA allegations before a full trial.

Apple started its copyright lawsuit against Corellium in August 2019, adding alleged DMCA infringements to the case the following January. Throughout the case, Apple has insisted that its purpose is “not to prosecute good faith investigations, but to put an end to Corellium’s illegal commercialization of Apple’s valuable copyrights.” The issue is still of concern to many security firms that rely on Corellium products for iOS analysis.

The Oracle v. Case. Google has cast a heavy shadow over the trial and in the ruling it is cited several times as a leading example of successful copyright claim on software. However, the judge eventually found that the case had little bearing on the specific allegations made by Apple.