Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The Cupertino tech giant Apple has lost its copyright infringement claims against U.S. security startup Corellium, as federal judge Rodney Smith has dismissed the claim on lack of legal basis. The judge said that Apple failed to show a legal standing for protecting its entire iOS from security researchers.

Judge Rodney Smith called Apple’s argument on those claims “Puzzling, if not disingenuous.” Smith found that Corellium used a vetting process before selling its products to customers.

Corellium allows security researchers to spin up a virtualized ARM device (including iOS devices) in a browser and take a deep look under the hood to discover potential security bugs.

Back in January 2018, Apple was in talks with Corellium for an acquisition. However, those talks did not amount to anything, and were stopped in summer. Later, on August 15, 2019 Apple filed a lawsuit alleging that Corellium infringed its copyright iOS and circumvented its security measures in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The startup denied the allegations, claiming that its action came under “fair use,” which is legally permissible.

“From the infancy of copyright protection, courts have recognized that some opportunity for fair use of copyrighted materials is necessary to fulfill copyright’s purpose of promoting ‘the progress of science and useful arts,'” Judge Smith wrote. The judge further stated that Corellium’s position for security research and vulnerabilities is evident and supported with record.

Crucially, the court didn’t dismiss all of Apple’s case. The judge said that Corellium might still be in violation of DMCA, which prohibits tools to circumvent security measures and that aspect of the suit still stands.

This result is part of a string of conflicts that tech giants are suffering for the past year as they face tougher scrutiny. Chief executives of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are all being question on anti-competitive behavior before Congress and EU lawmakers.