Apple Is Suing Start-Up for Creating 'Perfect Replicas' of iPhone

The start-up claims its replicas are for spotting software vulnerabilities.

A novel startup Corellium has been offering hackers a virtual iPhone for about a year now. Now, Apple is suing the firm claiming the company has been illegally selling these "perfect replicas" of its operating systems.

Helping spot vulnerabilities

The whole thing, claims Apple, has been done under the guise of helping spot vulnerabilities. "Although Corellium paints itself as providing a research tool for those trying to discover security vulnerabilities and other flaws in Apple’s software, Corellium’s true goal is profiting off its blatant infringement,” Apple said in the complaint.

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“Far from assisting in fixing vulnerabilities, Corellium encourages its users to sell any discovered information on the open market to the highest bidder," added the complaint. As such, Apple is suing to shut Corellium's virtual iPhone down.

The way Corellium works is that, for a price, you could summon up a virtual iPhone on your computer. It would not be possible to use Corellium’s system as an actual iPhone, but it still copies iOS directly.

However, Apple’s main concern may lie in what Corellium was actually being used for. The software was employed as a tool by researchers seeking vulnerabilities in iOS.

Once found, these vulnerabilities were often sold to third-party exploit traders instead of being reported to Apple. “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 said in its complaint.

Corellium's response

Now, the next step is to see how Corellium responds. In a July 4th posting regarding its intellectual property policy the firm said that it “respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects its users to do the same.” 

Apple, on the other hand, referred to Corellium's products as "perfect replicas" of Apple products. “For a million dollars a year, Corellium will even deliver a ‘private’ installation of its product to any buyer,” Apple said.

“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 is requesting that sales of the Corellium Apple Product be blocked and that customers be notified that they are in violation of Apple’s rights.

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