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Apple sues startup for creating a software copy of the iPhone

Apple yesterday sued Corellium, a company that sells access to virtual machines that run copies of the operating system used in iPhones and iPads.

A startup called Corellium has been offering hackers a virtual iPhone.

‘The purpose of this lawsuit is not to encumber good-faith security research,’ says Apple.

For more than a year, a company called Corellium has been offering hackers a virtual iPhone. For a price, you could summon up a virtual iPhone on your computer, changing the model or iOS version through a simple menu tab.

Now, Apple is suing to shut that virtual iPhone down. In a lawsuit first reported by Bloomberg, Apple alleges that Corellium’s virtual iPhone replica infringes on the company’s copyright of iOS and related technology. It would be near impossible to use Corellium’s system as a replacement for an iPhone (it’s not mobile or SIM-accessible, for a start), but it still copies iOS directly, giving Apple grounds for a claim.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is not to encumber good-faith security research, but to bring an end to Corellium’s unlawful commercialization of Apple’s valuable copyrighted works,” Apple’s counsel argues in its initial complaint.

Some of Apple’s concern over the product may have been what Corellium was really being used for: bug-hunting. According to reports last year from Motherboard and Forbes, Corellium’s virtual iPhone was primarily used by researchers looking for vulnerabilities in iOS and the iPhone itself, which were often sold to third-party exploit traders rather than reported to Apple.

Still, it remains to be seen how Corellium will respond. As noted by Bloomberg, Corellium updated its public Intellectual property policy just last month. A summons was issued in the wake of Apple’s filing, giving Corellium 21 days after delivery to respond to the suit.

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