It’s often the case that big companies suing very small ones go under the radar. It is even more often the case that those small companies often lose or settle the matter out of court, sometimes causing the business to fold completely. That’s why it almost comes as a shock that Apple lost this round against security startup Corellium. More than just the loss, however, the initial ruling could have implications for iOS and iPhone security down the line.
Corellium’s claim to fame is practically an emulator that would let security researchers run iOS without a physical iPhone. The expressed purpose is to poke inside the mobile platform to look for bugs that will then be reported to Apple, at least hopefully. Naturally, Apple wasn’t amused.
It sued Corellium on copyright grounds, though it also argued that the tool could be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. Judge Rodney Smith, however, disagreed and didn’t even consider it to be a copyright issue. The judge defended that Corellium wasn’t creating a competing product and was, instead, actually trying to provide tools that would make iOS better. Smith also pointed out Corellium’s vetting process before selling the security tool to a customer.
That said, there is one claim in the lawsuit that wasn’t thrown out. Apple accused the startup of circumventing security measures to create its iOS emulator in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. How the lawsuit will proceed from here is still unknown.
Apple’s loss sent a ripple through the cybersecurity community, especially considering how Apple has long been extremely protective of its software. Some praised the ruling that will empower cybersecurity companies to step up their game in order to outdo harmful actors and hackers that are now wreaking havoc across the world. Others also used the decision as proof that Big Tech can no longer rely on their size and coffers to bully smaller companies to bend and fold.