In an event that may have consequences for researchers that discover tech flaws and vulnerabilities, a federal judge on Tuesday rejected Apple’s patent theft complaint against cybersecurity start-up Corellium.
Apple refused to show a legal justification for shielding the entire iOS operating system from security researchers, Judge Rodney Smith said.
In 2019, Apple sued the Florida-based start-up for trademark infringement for its “virtualization” of iOS apps.
But the judge found that “fair use” of proprietary content was Corellium’s work, which is intended to identify security vulnerabilities in the programme.
From the infancy of copyright protection, courts have acknowledged that there is a need for some incentive for fair use of copyrighted materials to serve the intent of copyright to encourage “From the infancy of copyright protection, courts have recognised that some opportunity for fair use of copyrighted materials is necessary to fulfil copyright’s purpose of promoting ‘the progress of science and useful arts,'” Smith stated.
“There is evidence in the record to support Corellium’s position that its product is intended for security research and, as Apple concedes, can be used for security research. Further, Apple itself would have used the product for internal testing had it successfully acquired the company.”
If upheld, the decision reflects a win for security researchers who, as part of efforts to identify bugs, may face civil or criminal fines for reproducing patented software.
It also restricts Apple’s attempts to exercise complete power of its iPhone apps and its right to force its proprietary security testing resources to be used by third parties.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the case immediately.