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FairPlay or Not, Apple is Ready to Gun Down Hackers

1 - Apple Inc, DRM Particle Gun Authentication System , Cover Graphic 
On February 6, 2007, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., published an open letter entitled "Thoughts on Music" calling on the "big four" music companies to sell their music without DRM. Apple's iTunes Store went DRM Free two years later. Yet DRM is still with us in other media, be it movies, video games and perhaps iBooks for the iPad and beyond. According to Wikipedia, "DRM has never and will never be perfect. Hackers will always find a method to break DRM." Perhaps that's true, but Apple seems to think that they could out-gun hackers with their latest DRM authentication-centric Particle Gun. While only time will tell if this pans out as planned, for now, FairPlay or not, Apple is ready to gun down hackers in an effort to appease content creators.

Patent Background

The field of DRM involves code protection, code obfuscation and various other software security mechanisms. Cryptography is one such way to protect information. Cryptography is the practice of hiding information; encryption is the process of converting intelligible information (plaintext) into unintelligible information (ciphertext); and decryption is the process of converting ciphertext back into plaintext. Authentication is a software security mechanism that establishes or confirms an entity as authentic, or true. Hashing is also often utilized in authentication. Hashing is the process of producing a value (typically fixed length called a hash or digest) based on the input and has three main properties: it is easy to calculate a hash or digest for any given data, it is extremely difficult to calculate an input with a given hash or digest, and it is extremely unlikely that two different messages will have the same hash or digest.

In all of these areas, namely encryption, decryption, authentication, hashing, etc., that are included in cryptography, there is a set of basic tools or functions that are widely used, for instance hash functions and derivation functions. Authentication systems often utilize functions to derive information. The process of derivating information from provided data is iterated numerous times to ensure that the final information cannot be used to get details about the initial information. Allowing initial information to be recovered from final information is a major flaw in cryptography systems since the objective of cryptographic systems is to protect the initial information.

Many authentication systems exist. Accordingly, what is needed in the art is an improved way to perform authentication, such that it is difficult to extract initial information from final information.

Patent Summary

Disclosed in Apple's patent are systems, methods, and tangible computer readable-media for authentication based on physical particle gun emissions. The method includes generating a first value on a sender based on physical emission properties of a particle gun; transmitting the first value from the sender to a receiver; receiving the first value on the receiver; and verifying the authenticity of an entity at the receiver by comparing the first value with a second value generated at the receiver. Generating the first and second values is based at least in part on input data that provides physical emission properties of the particle gun including at least one of initial speed, electromagnetic fields, mass, electronic charge and time. The method of authenticating based on physical particle gun emissions makes it difficult to recover initial input from output values.

In another aspect, the method of authentication includes generating a challenge on a sender based on physical emission properties of a particle gun and a secret value, transmitting the challenge from the sender to a receiver, receiving the challenge on the receiver and verifying authenticity of an entity at the receiver by comparing the challenge with a value generated at the receiver.

In yet another aspect, the method of authentication includes generating a first challenge value on a sender, transmitting the first challenge value from the sender to a receiver, receiving the first challenge value on the receiver, generating a second challenge value at the receiver and computing a receiver response based on the first challenge value, the second challenge value and a secret. The computation of the receiver response can be based on physical emission properties of a particle gun. The method further includes transmitting the receiver response to the sender and verifying authenticity of an entity at the sender by comparing an expected value of the receiver response with a calculated value based on the first challenge value, the second challenge value, a secret and being based on the physical emission properties of the particle gun.

Particle Gun Emissions


The feature of this patent relates to utilizing properties of "particle gun emissions." Apple's patent FIG. 2 illustrates an example particle gun and conductive plates. In the illustration, two separate, independent and uniform electromagnetic fields are generated by the pairs of conductive plates (202A, 202B and 204A, 204B). The particle gun 206 is located at the center of the x, y and z axis. A method of authentication based on particle gun physical theory is presented. The principle is to consider the inputs that give the physical properties of the event: time, mass, initial velocity, electromagnetic fields intensity, and orientation of the particles when they leave the gun. These properties govern the trajectory of the emitted particles as they pass through the electromagnetic fields created by the conductive plates.

2 - Apple Inc, Particle Gun, figs 2, 3 

Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates an example particle gun rotation (302). The particle gun could be represented on a "kneecap" which allow a limited rotation over the axis x and y (from -90 degrees to 90 degrees). The particles are released in the direction of the z axis.

The electromagnetic force involved in the particle gun theory is F=q*E=m*a, wherein F is the electromagnetic force, q is the electronic charge of a particle, "m" is mass, "a" is acceleration and the variables F, E and "a" are vectors. The speed depends on the acceleration and is v=a*t+v0 wherein v is the speed, "a" is acceleration, t is time, v0 is the initial speed and the variables v, "a" and v0 are vectors.

Hmm, I was just thinking about that myself the other day while eating my nutritious Cocoa-Puffs – Ha!

Apple's patent FIG. 5 presented in our cover graphic illustrates authentication based on particle gun physical theory.

Apple credits Pierre Betouin (France), Mathieu Ciet (France) and Augustin Farrugia as the inventors of patent application 20100138654, originally filed in Q4 2008. For more information on this DRM authentication patent, use this temporary patent link. Within days, this link may actually re-direct you to another USPTO patent unrelated to Apple. At such time, you could still review Apple's patent by simply feeding patent application number 20100138654 into this search engine.

Other Patent Applications Published Today

Apple had three other patent applications published today which were classified as continuation patents (meaning continuations of previously published patents). They include the following:

20100138739: Text Flow in and Around Irregular Containers

20100134507: Method and Apparatus for Frame Buffer Management

20100138056: Apparatus for Air Cooling of an Electronic Device

3 - Apple Inc, fan based cooling system for mac pro, fig 2

In operation, the contoured panel 10 noted in Patent FIG. 2 above is placed proximate to fans within the Mac Pro so that the contoured portions channel air from the fans more directly onto heat producing elements such as microprocessors.

For additional information on any of the patents presented above, simply feed the individual patent number into this search engine

Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for further details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.


In Copyright News Today: New Digital Copyright Bill in Canada:


The Canadian government has introduced new copyright legislation that would legalize activities commonly engaged in by thousands of Canadians - such as copying a CD - but which would criminalize breaking digital locks placed on gadgets and media.



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