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Corellium Largely Wins Summary Judgment Against Apple in Virtual iOS Case

Apple's logo on a store window.

Bangkok, Thailand 21/12/2018 The logo of Apple brand in front ot First Apple store in Bangkok, Thailand.

Judge Rodney Smith of the Southern District of Florida granted most of software company Corellium’s summary judgment claims against tech giant Apple in an opinion issued on Monday. The case concerned whether Corellium’s product, software that allows the creation of a virtual instance of Apple’s iOS operating system, violates Apple’s copyrights. The judge found that the defendant’s use of Apple code was fair, and declined to grant summary judgment on a Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim.

According to the ruling, the product is designed “to provide an environment in which technology security researchers can conduct research with features of interest to those researchers.” Users of Corellium’s software cannot make calls or use a camera, for example. The judge also recounted that Apple was in talks to acquire Corellium, but the deal ultimately did not come to fruition.

In finding for the defendant on Apple’s copyright claims, the judge undertook a fair use analysis. The court found that Corellium’s use of Apple’s copyrighted content was transformative. In doing so, it considered “‘whether the new work merely supersede[s] the objects of the original creation, or instead adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning, or message.’” The court explained that Corellium’s tool allows users to use iOS code in a manner specialized to security researchers. Users can, for example, “(1) see and halt running processes; (2) modify the kernel; (3) use CoreTrace, a tool to view system calls; (4) use an app browser and a file browser; and (5) take live snapshots.” Many of these features, Apple conceded, are not available normally on iOS.

The court analogized the defendant’s tool to Google Books’ search snippet features, at issue in a prior case on transformative works. In that case, the Second Circuit found that “the purpose of Google’s copying of the original copyrighted books is to make available significant information about those books,” rather than making the text of the books available for reading. The court found similarly that Corellium’s tool “makes available significant information about iOS ” The other factors in the fair use analysis also favored Corellium.

While the court granted summary judgment as to the copyright claims, the judge declined to rule on the DMCA claim, citing a genuine issue of material fact.

Apple was represented by Lash & Goldberg and Latham & Watkins, as well as Lewis & Llewellyn. Corellium was represented by Norton Rose Fulbright, Cole, Scott & Kissane, Berger Singerman, and Hecht Partners.

In a statement provided to Law Street, David L. Heacht, founder of Hecht Partners and co-counsel for Corellium said “We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling on fair use and are proud of the strength and resolve that our clients at Corellium have displayed in this important battle. The Court affirmed the strong balance that fair use provides against the reach of copyright protection into other markets, which is a huge win for the security research industry in particular.”

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