Apple Slapped in ‘Corellium’ Case but It’s Not Over Yet

By Bill Toulas / December 30, 2020

The U.S. District Court of Florida has ruled that Corellium’s product existed within the context of “fair use”, so there are no copyright infringements given to Apple’s legal team. This is an early loss in the war between the two companies, which started out in August with Apple's lawsuit. The main argument was that Corellium’s products, which are basically virtualized iOS testing beds, constitute illegal replications of the iOS. Apple accused Corellium of copying the code of its precious and proprietary mobile OS and also threw allegations of facilitating jailbreaking activities in the mix.

Because Corellium’s images go well beyond just being a usable mobile OS, like, for example, allowing the user to modify the kernel or to monitor and even halt processes, the judge concluded that they are clearly geared towards testing and security researchers, admittedly a very limited group of people. As such, Corellium’s images cannot be considered a competing product to the iOS, and so the "fair use" argument stands strong.

This is a very important ruling for the case, and Corellium is already celebrating as they just dodged the most dangerous bullet Apple shoot in their direction. Also, the iOS security researchers community and generally all of those who agree with the existence of tools that enable people to fiddle with popular consumer products freely have every reason to be satisfied with this development. The fear of legal liability when using third-party software for testing has now been lifted.

However, this is not the end of the case, and in fact, we’re still at a very early stage. The court didn’t dismiss Apple’s other allegations about copy protection circumvention measures and authentication server circumvention, so some DMCA allegations are still there to be reviewed and decided upon during the full trial.

It is positive to see that in legal cases involving “David and Goliath” entities, courts maintain a fair stance, and it is noteworthy that this ruling was something that almost nobody in the field expected. Historically, firms like Apple win such copyright cases, so this was a surprise for sure.

In the end, Florida's court ruling adds one more thorn in Apple’s basket, which is currently filled with anti-trust lawsuits coming from all over. Based on what’s going on right now, the situation should clear up before the end of 2021, and Apple will be obligated to set a new strategic course. Equally, the jailbreaking community will either be rejuvenated or die out completely.

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