Future generations of the iPad could come with a built-in stand, it has been claimed.

Patently Apple reports that Apple has applied for a patent that includes a stand that could support the tablet device in both landscape and portrait orientation.

The stand could be built-in or sold separately, according to the report, and could negate the need for a docking station for the device if future iPads come with more physical connectivity options.

Apple has left a number of options open for how the stand could attach to the iPad, including a screw-in mechanism, magnets, adhesives, suction cups, locks, or latches.

Details of the patent, published on the website, have only just been revealed by the US Patent & Trademark Office though the original application was made in the third quarter of 2009.

What isn't clear from the application, though, is whether this feature will be included in the next-generation iPad. It certainly hasn't been mentioned before in the numerous rumours about the iPad 2 that have been swirling around in the past few months, so it seems likelier that that it could be something planned for the third generation, or perhaps even later.

There are a number of iPad stands already available, many of which were on display at the recent Macworld Expo 2011.