Apple settles lawsuit against security startup Corellium

Apple has settled its copyright lawsuit against Corellium, a company that sells virtual iPhone environments for security testing. Apple and Corellium agreed to a last-minute settlement yesterday, just days before a trial scheduled for August 16th. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but Corellium confirmed to The Washington Post that it would continue to offer virtual iOS systems.

Apple sued Corellium in 2019, claiming the company infringed on its iOS copyrights, and expanded the case with more allegations in 2020. A judge dismissed the copyright infringement claims later that year, saying Corellium’s product had a strong fair use case. But the judge let Apple move forward with claims that Corellium violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by breaking iOS copy protection measures.

In its complaints, Apple claimed that “Corellium’s business is based entirely on commercializing the illegal replication of the copyrighted operating system and applications that run on Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and other Apple devices.” Corellium countered by saying that Apple was trying to crack down on independent security vendors while launching a competing product. Court records also indicated that Apple attempted to acquire the company in 2018 before filing its lawsuit.

The lawsuit highlighted the potential chilling effects of DMCA Section 1201, a controversial anti-piracy rule that has cast a pall over the repair, software archival, and security research industries. Section 1201 makes it illegal to offer tools and services that circumvent electronic “locks” on copyrighted material, with a handful of exceptions that must be frequently renewed. In June, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published an open letter encouraging companies to cite the law with “great caution and in consideration of broader security concerns, not just for competitive economic advantage.”