Apple's iOS emulation copyright battle with Corellium is over, for now

Ios 16 Iphone 13 Pro Hero
(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Apple has lost a legal battle with security firm Corellium after it claimed that the emulation of its iOS iPhone operating system constituted copyright infringement.

Apple first filed its lawsuit in 2019 and saw it dismissed in 2020 before appealing in 2021. Now, it's lost again.

However, while Apple has been told that the emulation of iOS wasn't copyright infringement, there could still be a case to answer over other aspects of what Correlium was doing.

Fair use

Reuters reports that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told Apple that emulating iOS fell under fair use, with Correlium furthering scientific progress in terms of security research. The company was emulating iOS on non-iPhone hardware to allow researchers to figure out whether there were any unknown security flaws.

"The appeals court rejected Apple's arguments that Corellium simply repackaged iOS in a different format for profit, harming Apple's market for its operating system and its security-research programs," Reuters reports. Corellium simply "opened the door for deeper security research into operating systems like iOS," the court said.

That doesn't mean that this is the end of the story, though. The appeals court did send the case back to the district court to consider whether or not Corellium infringed copyrights on Apple's icons and wallpapers.

We'd suggest that the best iPhone is a secure iPhone and that anything that can be done to help find bugs and security flaws is well worth doing. But Apple is no doubt concerned that emulating iOS, no matter for what reason, opens the door to iOS possibly finding its way onto other hardware in the future — including Android phones. Would you buy a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra instead of an iPhone 15 Pro if you could run iOS 17 on it, for example?

As for what comes next, that's up to Apple and the courts — Apple reportedly didn't respond to a request for comment when asked by Reuters.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.