Recent Apple OS Patent Lacks Crucial Information?

The US Patents and Trademarks Office recently published a patent filed by Apple in April 2004, sparking a flurry of speculation across the Internet about its description of "tamper-resistant code" that will prevent the Intel version of Mac OS X from being installed on garden variety PCs.

However, Andrew Orlowski, writing for The Channel Register, spoke with some senior systems engineers who anonymously told him that the patent fails to describe how such code will be implemented, a crucial missing piece that could weaken the patent.

One, who Mr. Orlowski describes working for "a Tier 1 vendor," told the reporter: "I find it difficult to believe that it was accepted. For Apple, the issue is how can we rebuild OS X with a modified compiler so that, without having to change the source code, every single component contains non-obvious operations that check if itis running on a genuine Mac.

"By non-obvious, that means that itis not easy to do a scan of the binary to remove the checks. If all of the OS X code contains checks distributed throughout, it will be very difficult to make it run on a basic Intel PC."

"Thereis nothing here to patent," another anonymous source agreed.

Mr. Orlowski speculated that Appleis legal department has a serious failing in the defense of intellectual property (IP), citing such recent incidents as the iPod patent fight with Microsoft and the fact that "last year, Apple agreed to pay undisclosed royalties to EU-data for IP related to its online music store."

"Clearly, in the Jobs era," he wrote, "Apple lawyers are far better trained at attacking bloggers and DIY publishers than they are at protecting the companyis intellectual property assets."