The patent, revealed last week, covers a range of uses that Apple considers to be illegitimate, including "hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card," according to the application, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent, which would also apply to the iPod Touch and iPad, also covers measures to identify the unauthorized user.
"A photograph of the current user can be taken, a recording of the current user's voice can be recorded, the heartbeat of the current user can be recorded, or any combination of the above," the patent states.
"The photograph, recording, or heartbeat can be compared, respectively, to a photograph, recording, or heartbeat of authorized users of the electronic device to determine whether they match," the application continues.
"Sensitive information can be erased from the electronic device" if an unauthorized user is detected, the patent states.
The jailbreaking issue came to a head earlier this month after a hacker who goes by the name "comex" released an app, called Jailbreakme 2.0, that makes it easy for users with limited technical skills to run unauthorized, third-party apps on their iPhones.
Jailbreakme 2.0 works with iPhone 4, as well as iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch devices that have been upgraded to iOS 4, which is the newest operating system for Apple's mobile products. The developer is also working on a version for the iPad.
The Library of Congress recently ruled that jailbreaking is not a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and is therefore legal.
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