Apple uses patent system to protect it from jail-breaking

One true technology cult, Apple, has come up with a wizard way of dealing with sinners who jail-break its products. 

After a US court decided that it was perfectly reasonable for people to be allowed to do what they like with a product they own, Jobs’ Mob’s legal team seemed to have been burning the mid-night oil to come up with a method of protecting Apple’s walled garden of delights.

What it has done is applied for a patent covering various methods for identifying and disabling unauthorised use including jailbreaking and other hacks.

The patent , which was filed in February and published last week, primarily focuses on measures for identifying stolen devices and protecting the kinds of sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and passwords, stored on those devices.

But buried in the small print, the patent also covers methods for identifying devices that have been hacked, jailbroken, unlocked or had their SIM cards removed, such as monitoring sudden increases in memory usage that could “indicate that a hacking program is being run and that an unauthorised user may be using the electronic device”.

This means that Apple could wipe personal data from these devices and then alert the phone’s carrier to “shutdown any telephone service to the electronic device, shutdown the electronic device itself, or otherwise suitably extract the functions of the electronic device”.

Of course it will be sold to the great unwashed under the pretence of protecting customers from theft. The Apple fan magazines will praise it as a wonderful gift given unto them by a merciful Jobs.

However, within days, we suspect Apple will be wiping and bricking jailbroken phones in a manner which cannot be repaired because they would void warranty.

It seems that the patent system is a much better tool than the law courts.