A recently discovered patent put in by Microsoft back in November is for "Control-based Content Pricing," which is a fancy way of saying that it'd track and monetize (read: penalize) the actions a viewer takes with a TV remote. DVR a show and want to skip the ads? Well, pay up, buster.
An example offered by Microsoft's filing: " if a user initiates a navigation control input to advance past (e.g., skip over) an advertisement, the cost of a requested on-demand movie may be increased." Sounds great, right?
Another example: " if a user initiates a replay of a sporting event, the user may be charged for the replay control input and for each subsequent view control input." That's right, rewinding to see or hear something you missed could mean cash out of your pocket (and even more when you try to get your program going again, apparently).
It's a pretty nefarious idea when it comes to remotes at home, of course, but realistically something like this would probably only make it into hotels and the like, where there's a lot of pay-per-view content. Worst case scenario, to my mind: set-top boxes start coming with special remotes with this functionality.
Just because it's a patent doesn't mean it's going to get into a product, of course. We're hoping Microsoft just patented this as a service to the world, to make sure it never sees the light of day. As pointed out by GeekWire's Todd Bishop, this is actually an update to an older Microsoft claim, seen here.