After a long battle in court, Apple faced a significant defeat this week as a US court ruled that Corellium, a company selling virtual iOS devices without authorization, is not infringing any copyrights with its products.
The case, which was opened in August 2019, saw both companies almost reaching a settlement in 2021, but the dispute continued. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled on Monday that Corellium’s CORSEC simulator is protected by the “fair use doctrine” of copyright law. This doctrine ensures that copyrighted works can be replicated in some situations.
Corellium’s virtual machines running iOS serve only security research purposes, and the court agrees. A three-judge panel said that Corellium’s products “further scientific progress by allowing security research into important operating systems.” The court also added that iOS is a “functional operating software that falls outside copyright’s core.”
As a result, Corellium can continue to provide iOS virtual machines to its customers, and Apple won’t be able to sue the company for it. In 2020, a federal judge had already ruled that Corellium made fair use of the iOS code.
The decision sets a precedent that could allow developers to emulate iOS on other platforms without being sued. Corellium’s iOS virtual machines are available via a subscription for enterprise or individual customers. However, the company reviews each request to prevent the use of its software for malicious purposes.
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Apple, on the other hand, claims that Corellium is selling copies of iOS without authorization while also helping hackers find ways to attack iPhone and iPad users. Despite this, the US court’s decision stands, allowing Corellium to continue serving its customers.