4 January 2021CopyrightMuireann Bolger

Apple loses copyright case against security start-up

Apple has failed to win a copyright infringement case against security company Corellium, after the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed the technology company’s suit on December 29.

In its complaint filed in August 2019, Apple claimed that Corellium had violated copyright law with its software, which helps security researchers find bugs and security holes in Apple’s products. It also held that the security company circumvented its security measures in violation of the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

In 2018, Apple and Corellium had begun negotiations which, if successful, would have allowed Apple to acquire the company. But the talks stalled in the summer of 2018.

Following Apple’s suit issued a year later, Corellium countered by denying that it had violated the DMCA or Apple’s copyrights. Corellium further argued that, even if it used Apple’s copyrighted work, such use constituted “fair use” and was, therefore, legally permissible.

Apple filed a motion for partial summary judgment and Corellium filed a motion for summary judgment.

In its lawsuit, Apple argued that Corellium’s products could be dangerous if they fell into the wrong hands because security flaws discovered by Corellium could be used to hack iPhones. Apple also accused Corellium of selling its product indiscriminately, a claim Corellium denied.

Judge Rodney Smith called Apple’s arguments “puzzling, if not disingenuous”, mainly because Smith found that Corellium used a vetting process before selling its products to customers.

The court ruled that Corellium’s creation of virtual iPhones was not a copyright violation, partially because it was designed to help improve the security for all iPhone users.

Consequently, it found that Corellium wasn’t creating a competing product for consumers, but rather a research tool for a comparatively small number of customers.

In his conclusion, Smith found that Corellium should not be liable for “a lack of good faith and fair dealing”, and that after “weighing all the necessary factors”, Corellium had met its burden of establishing fair use.

“On these grounds, Corellium’s motion for summary judgment is granted on Apple’s copyright claim.” he added.

WIPR has approached both companies for comment.

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