(Reuters) – A Florida federal judge on Tuesday dismissed Apple Inc’s copyright infringement lawsuit against a Florida startup whose software helps security researchers detect vulnerabilities in Apple products, including the iPhone.
U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith ruled in favor of Corellium LLC, saying the software, which mimics the iOS operating system running on iPhone and iPad, was “fair use”
Apple accused Corellium of essentially replicating iOS to create “virtual” iOS-operated devices, whose “only function” was to run unauthorized copies of the system on non-Apple hardware.
But the Fort Lauderdale-based judge said Corellium “adds something new to iOS” by letting users see and stop processes running, taking snapshots and performing other operations.
“Corellium’s profit motivation does not undermine the defense of sound use, especially with regard to the public benefit of the product,” Smith wrote.
The judge also rejected Apple’s argument that the Delray Beach startup acted in bad faith by selling its product without distinction, including potentially to hackers, and by not requiring users to report errors to Apple.
He said the argument seemed “confusing, if not unfortunate”, and said that Cupertino, California-based Apple, did not impose a reporting requirement under its own Bug Bounty program.
Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Corellium has denied wrongdoing. Justin Levine, one of the lawyers, said in an email that the decision made “correct findings in fair use.”
Smith said Apple could still pursue its own federal lawsuit alleging that Corellium circumvented its security measures when it created the software.
Corellium was founded in August 2017. According to court records, Apple tried to buy Corellium from January 2018, but talks had broken down in the summer. Apple sued Corellium in August 2019.
The case is Apple Inc v. Corellium LLC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 19-81160.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Clip by David Gregorio