Apple patent app details DRM protection for running applications on specific hardware

Apple has filed United States Patent Application (#20070288886). The application was made on April 27, 2007 and published on December 13, 2007 by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Apple’s Abstract: A digital rights management system permits an application owner to cause code to be injected into the application’s run-time instruction stream so as to restrict execution of that application to specific hardware platforms. In a first phase, an authorizing entity (e.g., an application owner or platform manufacturer) authorizes one or more applications to execute on a given hardware platform. Later, during application run-time, code is injected that performs periodic checks are made to determine if the application continues to run on the previously authorized hardware platform. If a periodic check fails, at least part of the application’s execution string is terminated–effectively rendering the application non-usable. The periodic check is transparent to the user and difficult to circumvent.

Apple’s description, in part: The invention relates generally to digital rights management and more particularly, by way of example, to performing a check at run-time to determine if a software application is authorized to execute on a specific hardware platform.

More info: United States Patent Application #20070288886

[Attribution: MacNN, MacObserver. Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “MT” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Apple could use this for applications, application suites (for example, iWork), and/or for Mac OS X (to permit its use only on Apple-labeled hardware as stipulated in the Mac OS X Software License Agreement). It could also be intended to permit Mac OS X on Apple-approved hardware (ominous chords: Return of the Clones!) Or it could simply be a patent application that remains unused (Apple certainly has plenty of those) or is not planned for use until some future date.

40 Comments

  1. Hey! I wrote an application in the 1990s that linked the ethernet card’s unique MAC address with the serial number to only let that one Mac run the application. You then embed the MAC address as a string inside you’re app as a resource in case the user moves it. Is this prior art?

    This is a dud. People have been linking software to specific machines since the ‘Lotus 123 floppy’ days.

  2. “…during application run-time, code is injected that performs periodic checks are made to determine if the application continues to run on the previously authorized hardware platform. If a periodic check fails, at least part of the application’s execution string is terminated…”
    This seems to suggest both that a) running on an unapproved platform is “discouraged” and b) not running on an approved platform could be discouraged. So I could fail to run (eg) Backup for, say, a month and then discover I can no longer run it.
    Most likely, this is a language problem … a failure to say precisely what they mean. Once they discover the loophole created, though, will they simply say “Oops” and decline to use it? Or …
    Dave

  3. Seems like Apple is about to open the MacOS X floodgates to the masses. Don’t be surprised if Apple makes a major announcement at next years MacWorld Expo pertaining to this; revealing that they’ve been holding closed door discussions with a major OEM and possible licensing of its OS.

    1. Apple restricts OS X to run on only certain types of OEM hardware, and level sets this by getting guarantees from its partner OEM that they’ll not make and or enhance their hardware to outperform and or compete with Apple’s latest offerings, thus avoiding a repeat of the pre-Jobs Apple licensing agreement. *Note: Prevents OEMs from cannibalizing Apple’s hardware sales.

    Guys, you heard it here first!!! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Hmmmm, could this be for rentals. When you rent a video, it injects this drm code into the file as it down loads, that keeps you from copying it to other items (except for your synced iPod).

    this would allow mulitple viewing of a rental movie but only on the original hardware that it was downloaded to……… I think. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> ???

    en

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