Apple has filed a lawsuit against a security startup for what the Cupertino company claims is illegal replication of the iPhone operating system, iOS.
The startup is Corellium, first revealed by Forbes in February 2018, when the husband-and-wife founded company came out of stealth. Its product provides “virtualized” versions of iOS. For security researchers, such software-only versions of the Apple operating system are incredibly valuable. For instance, it’s possible to use Corellium to pause the operating system and analyze what’s happening at the code level. Some in the industry have called it “magic,” as it should help security researchers uncover vulnerabilities with greater ease and speed than having to work with a commercial iPhone.
But Apple has deemed the product an infringement of its copyrighted smartphone and iPad operating system. In a filing published Thursday, Apple’s lawyers argued that Corellium had not obtained the necessary license or permission from the iPhone maker.
“Corellium’s conduct plainly infringes Apple’s copyrights,” the company wrote in its complaint. “Corellium has simply copied everything: the code,the graphical user interface, the icons—all of it, in exacting detail… For a million dollars a year, Corellium will even deliver a ‘private’ installation of its product to any buyer. There is no basis for Corellium to be selling a product that allows the creation of avowedly perfect replicas of Apple’s devices to anyone willing to pay.”
Apple said in its complaint, which cites Forbes’ previous coverage, that it wasn’t trying to harm honest security research but to end what it claimed was Corellium’s illegal commercialization of iOS.
It’s demanding an injunction on Corellium, preventing it from selling or marketing its tools. Apple also wants Corellium to pay for any lost profits it may’ve suffered as a result of the start-up’s business.
Corellium, which was co-founded by CEO Amanda Gorton and her husband, noted iPhone hacker Chris Wade, declined to comment at the time of publication. Apple had not responded to a request for comment.
The legal complaint comes as Apple announced the release of iPhones that would make it easier for hackers to tinker with iOS, as first revealed by Forbes earlier this month. The program could be a rival to Corellium. The special iPhones will allow for deeper acces to the iOS code than before, though because they haven’t been released yet, it’s unclear just how they will compare to Corellium’s iOS versions.
Apple’s program will launch in the new year and, unlike its bug bounty program, will only be open to those the company deems worthy.
The full complaint is published below: