Apple just lost its lawsuit trying to ban iOS virtual machines

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Anton27)

Following a years-long battle with Corellium, Apple has been told by US courts that third-party virtual iOS devices are indeed allowed and that there’s nothing it can do to put an end to that.

Corellium markets itself as providing “never-before-possible security vulnerability research for iOS and Android phones,” and allows security workers to run virtual desktops and OSs for research purposes.

The court agreed, stating that Corellium “furthers scientific progress by allowing security research into important operating systems,” but it’s likely that Apple has other concerns.

VMs for iOS

Ordinarily, the only way for a consumer to get their hands on iOS is to buy expensive Apple hardware, which has also been a requirement for developers. However, concerns have been raised that developers may also be able to use Corellium’s security-focused VMs to try out apps without having to acquire the right hardware.

“The duplication of copyrighted work under certain circumstances” meant that The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that Corellium’s CORSEC simulator is protected by copyright law’s fair use doctrine, according to a Bloomberg report.

Corellium maintains that the simulator is primarily used by researchers, federal agencies, and defense contractors, and that there are clear differences between it and the regular distribution of iOS (via Bloomberg).

The duo faced a legal battle several years ago when, in late 2020, a Florida federal judge ruled that the “use of iOS in connection with the Corellium Product is permissible” (via The Washington Post).

Some reports indicate an element of vendetta could be behind the legal action, with Apple having failed to acquire the company in 2018 (via 9To5Mac). While this may play a small part in the case, Apple has long been notorious for the way it distributes its products, with third parties being very limited in numbers.

Apple did not immediately respond to TechRadar Pro’s request for comment.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!