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.
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