(Reuters)-A federal judge in Florida on Tuesday dismissed Apple’s copyright infringement claims against a Florida startup whose software helps security researchers find vulnerabilities in Apple products, including the iPhone.
United States District Court Judge Rodney Smith (Rodney Smith) expressed support for Corellium LLC, saying that its software imitating the iOS operating system running on the iPhone and iPad constitutes “fair use”
Apple accused Corellium of essentially copying iOS to create a “virtual” iOS operating device whose “only function” is to run an unauthorized copy of the system on non-Apple hardware.
However, the Fort Lauderdale-based judge said that Corellium “added some new features to iOS” by allowing users to view and stop running processes, take real-time snapshots, and perform other operations.
Smith wrote: “Corellium’s profit motive has not compromised its defensive capabilities for fair use, especially considering the public interest of the product.”
The judge also rejected Apple’s argument that the Delray Beach startup acted improperly, the company sold its products indiscriminately (including potentially to hackers) and did not require users to report errors to Apple.
He said that this statement seemed “puzzling, if not mean,” he said, and he said that Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not impose reporting requirements under its bug bounty program.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Corellium denies any wrongdoing. A lawyer for the company, Justin Levine, said in an email that the decision was “appropriate discovery related to fair use.”
Smith said Apple may still continue to seek a separate federal law, stating that Corellium bypassed its security measures when creating its software.
Corellium was established in August 2017. According to court records, Apple tried to purchase Corellium from January 2018, but negotiations broke down in the summer. Apple sued Corellium in August 2019.
The case is Apple v. Corellium LLC, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, No. 19-81160.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio