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.
[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.