An Apple patent application, filed earlier this year but posted online last Thursday could put an end to jailbreaking iPhones, iPod touches and iPads reports claims.

Jailbreaking, which allows Apple users to run third-party unsigned code on their devices by unlocking the operating system, was recently found not to violate copyright laws defined by the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

While the Apple patent would primarily protect users from thieves, with a range of security measures possibly planned, the company seems keen to stamp out jailbreaking, despite the practice now legal under "fair use" in the US.

According to tech news site CNET, Apple's patent 'Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,' includes a remote "kill switch" that could quickly restore an iPhone, iPod or iPad to its factory settings.

Along with the potential to restore factory settings, Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via email or text message when such activity as "hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card."  is detected CNET adds.

Apple iPhone 4

Click here for a free digital sample of Macworld’s Complete Guide to the iPad. Packed with tips and tricks, this essential guide gives you the lowdown on all the iPad’s features, plus the top 50 apps you must download.