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Microsoft Patent Monetizes Your TV Remote 234

theodp writes "Microsoft, reports GeekWire, is seeking a patent on monetizing the buttons of your TV remote. In its application for a patent on 'Control-based Content Pricing,' Microsoft explains how one can jack up the cable bill of those who dare fast-forward past a diaper commercial or replay a sports highlight. From the patent application: '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. Similarly, 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.'"
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Microsoft Patent Monetizes Your TV Remote

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  • too late (Score:5, Funny)

    by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:30AM (#39388551)
    I skipped this article.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Same here, what I'd like to know is if they will use their other patented / patent application stuff to really ream it down your throat.

      Eye tracking with a camera, monitor your "blood pressure, heart rate, etc." Maybe use it to show commercials for statins. I don't know.

      I did my part to help Microsoft go under. I've boycotted their products since 2005, and haven't bought a single thing from them. I keep a copy of XP SP2 in a vm just in case, but it never gets used, and will be obsolete soon anyway...


      • I guess the Kinnect could be used to see if you are watching the advert.

        • At the end of a commercial break there will be a series of questions to see if you were paying attention.

          • Re:too late (Score:5, Interesting)

            by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:55AM (#39389137)

            At the end of a commercial break there will be a series of questions to see if you were paying attention.

            I can think of *so* many ways to leverage this kind of thinking:

            i) shoes that detect when they're being put on, automatically debiting your chequing acct. for each use, and for each step taken in them.

            ii) Shirts that detect when they're being buttoned up. Ditto for zippers. Add modifiers for when used long sleeved, or rolled up.

            iii) sunglasses that charge per solar day.

            iv) clothing that detects seasons and charges by the year.

            v) & etc.

            I'm glad I'm not going to live long enough to see that world. The rest of you are welcome to it.

            • Will we get a price break for this? From the example of cable tv I'd say no.
              • Re:too late (Score:4, Interesting)

                by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:10PM (#39390321)
                I managed to make my cable bill go down recently.
                They did an across the board price increase, so I called and dropped a few packages so that I'm now paying less.
                And after a few months, I find that I'm not missing the channels that I dropped.

                The next price hike, I'll likely do the same thing.
                I may not even wait that long. As the content to advertising ratio keeps getting worse, it makes me want to spend even less time in front of the tube.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              & etc.

              "etc." means "et cetera". Using "&" before it means you don't know its meaning. Stop using it.

            • I want something like that for my ass, to count the kisses they'd have to give it for every idea like that.

              Why the fuck does anyone think anyone will put up with that crap? After I bought something, it's mine, and whatever remote control you put in goes out the nanosecond I find out it's there.

              When you want me to buy your crap, you better give me what I want. I don't give half a turd what you, the seller, want in your product.

            • Don't forget toilets that charge more for larger turds.
            • Re:too late (Score:4, Funny)

              by sixtyeight ( 844265 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:00PM (#39390887)

              Then I for one am glad they don't build Pacemakers.

      • No tv here either..We just have a couple to watch DVD's and streaming video. This does not surprise me..They want to nickel and dime us to death..A company can have billions of dollars,but it is never enough..They are never satisfied. I stopped using Microsoft's OS years ago when I discovered Linux...Never looked back.. This reminds me so much of the Beatle's song Tax man.
    • by Maow ( 620678 )

      I skipped this article.

      And now you owe Slashdot double your subscription rate, filthy pirate.

      On a more serious note, if someone is already paying for TV, who the fuck thinks they should pay again?

      Oh, right, content providers. And, of course, Microsoft (can I say Micro$oft this time, seems appropriate).

      I guess I can't complain, being a Linux user with no cable TV (nor any torrents, Hulu, Netflix, etc.) In fact, I can almost chuckle at it and hope it drives more customers away. One can hope...

    • Re:too late (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:03AM (#39389185) Journal

      Meh the future is gonna be embedded ads that you simply can't escape. You'll see the characters drinking Coke while using their iPhone and driving their Ford Explorer to the Taco Bell. As for cable doing this if the other cablecos are like mine they pretty much have you over a barrel anyway so its not like there is anything you can do about it. Between the major networks having their shows in Windows 7 Media Center (which I'm sure MSFT paid a pretty penny for) and Hulu I haven't even bothered to hook my basic cable up to my PC yet i'm still paying for the damned thing because they have it priced in their contracts so you get screwed if you don't take the crap.

      So in the end it doesn't matter if they stick in more commercials (remember when the whole selling point of cable was commercial free TV?) or jack the price or whatever, because you'll take it simply because you got no choice. in my area its 12Mbps cable with bundling bullshit or 2Mbps DSL run by the evil empire known as AT&T, aka "STFU about the lousy quality bitch or we'll leave you on hold for another 4 hours" so it isn't like there is a damned thing I can do about any wallet raping anyway. man what I wouldn't give for real competition and just a big fat dumb pipe. While EU and Asia are getting these sweet huge pipes we are getting the short bus to the information superhighway. Pretty much MSFT has nailed what is the only "innovation" we have here in the USA anymore, all the new and exciting ways the megacorps can steal your wallets.

      • Meh the future is gonna be embedded ads that you simply can't escape. You'll see the characters drinking Coke while using their iPhone and driving their Ford Explorer to the Taco Bell.

        I have no real problem with that. I'd rather watch a show where everyone's using the products of a particular brand, and not be interrupted for an ad, than watch a show which is constantly being interrupted for ads but has only generic products used. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome (and the status quo) is we get both.

        • You've never watched Chuck then.

          "Oh hey, while we come up with a plan for what to do, let's go to Subway and get the new cheesy melty Philly Sub."
          "Oh man, that sounds delicious."
          "YEAH I KNOW and It's only $5!"
          "Wow, that's such a great idea!"
          Switch to a scene of them at subway unwrapping their sub.
          "Oh, it's so good. What did you get?"
          "I got the $5 club. It's got..."
          "That's great, so what's the plan?"

          Not even exaggerating. They had an episode too where one of the characters escaped a kidnapping just because h
          • Chuck did the super-obvious product placements on purpose; it was part of the humor (as well as actually being a product placement). Usually it worked, sometimes it didn't.

        • Dude watch this movie review [] to get a taste of the future. yes its a bad movie but that's not the point, the point is its pretty much a 2 and a half hour commercial with a plot loosely woven around it. the main character uses a VIAO laptop and desktop while talking on his Sony phone and carries his Sony MP3 player while going on a Royal Caribbean Cruise (complete with long pan shot to show off the boat) while drinking his Pepto Bismal while talking about the Dunkin Donuts account. We're not just talking pro
      • Future? Have you watched TV lately? This is very pervasive already.

  • well fuck you! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:35AM (#39388577)

    and you realy expect people dont find ways to steal media content from the web?

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:36AM (#39388579) Homepage

    Does the patent cover giving the customer a refund if she pushes the "off" button?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, no, no, the service is to supply you with the opportunity to watch these shows as streamed. Fast forwarding... woah. That is skipping ahead, dear boy/girl/thing. That is using excess media enjoyment entertainment. Why, user, you are stealing when you fast forward. You should be glad we aren't suing you for theft instead of offering you an instant settlement.

      In fact, by turning off your television you are wasting entertainment that could have gone elsewhere. Refund, dear boy/girl/thing? You should

    • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:19AM (#39388887)

      You don't get it. Pushing the off button is equivalent to skipping all of the advertising, so you will have to pay even more.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @01:06PM (#39389955)

      Or do I get paid if I fast forward through the movie to get to the ads because they have better script, acting and are overall more entertaining?

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:37AM (#39388587)

    In fact, I do not have a TV and dropped that waste of time about 8 years ago. Never missed it since then.

    With the amount of stupidity that idiot box pours out these days, that sheer amorality of this patent does not surprise me. The source does not either.

    • by equex ( 747231 )
      I have a TV remote stashed somewhere. Forgot to throw it out with the TV. Cheers!
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        I wonder whether the patent applies to _that_ situation? Probably does with the over-broad patents granted today.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:44AM (#39388637)

      Obligatory Onion,429/

    • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )
      And now that you openly admit it, expect a bill from HBO, for your failure to view their programming. . . After all, a TV is mandatory, as is watching commercials. Resistance is Futile: You will be Monetized. . .
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        I already pay for Radio having an Internet-capable PC. (The amount of stupidity I encountered when I asked them what they meant by "Media Player" and that I was unable to find a "play radio" function in Linux was incredible.) They wanted to introduce that for TV as well here, but that would have caused a major upheaval and probably abolishment of the institution that collects these fees (and wastes about half of them).

  • See also (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:38AM (#39388597)

    Now where have I heard this idea before... Ah, right! []
    Though to be fair, the patent seems to have come first (Filing date: Mar 19, 2004, Issue date: Nov 22, 2011, WTF.) Great minds think alike?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:39AM (#39388603)

    ...that my TV is receive-only. No pay-TV, no on-demand, just unencrypted broadcasts. If you can't deliver that, I will just stop watching. Your move.

    • dont worry, the CIA is working on a way to spy on you thought your TV
      • by bmo ( 77928 )

        The amount of pushback on stuff like this has nothing whatsoever with tinfoil and everything with some businesses attempting to foist needless complexity upon the consumer with no benefit to the consumer whatsoever.

        All in the name of monetization.

        Gawd, the spellcheck did not flag that bit of stupid business jargon as a "not-word."

        jeg opgiv

        BMO - monetize the eschaton.

    • by bmo ( 77928 )

      Some of us never bothered to get an ATSC tuner since the switch to digital TV in 2009.

      What's the point?


  • by DynamoJoe ( 879038 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:40AM (#39388613)
    If they get the patent they can charge so much for the license that none of the media companies will buy it.
  • Mediaroom (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rogueippacket ( 1977626 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:45AM (#39388645)
    Considering a number of large television providers use Microsoft Mediaroom (which requires Microsoft certified set-top boxes, most of which are PVR capable) today, there is already a large platform this patent could be deployed to. But I guess it's a sign of the times - upfront subscriptions are slowly disappearing, with pay-per-use content (such as Video on Demand) and Micro-transactions taking over. Who knows, maybe we will see an overall reduction in subscription costs with patents like this, but probably not any time soon. I don't know if the average broadcast television subscriber is ready to be nickel-and-dimed for skipping a commercial yet.
  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @09:55AM (#39388707)
    stay out of my TV and Remote!!!
  • are they going to charge me twice and if they do, is Microsoft going to sue them for patient infringement?

  • Anyone else thinking of the second episode of Black Mirror []? Hey Microsoft, let me give you a hint: that story was intended as a joke or dystopia, not an ideal to strive for.

    • by hldn ( 1085833 )

      yep, this is the first thing i thought of.


    • Yeah - I was looking for a clip of it on Youtube to post here - but they don't have any - a shame because that programme had a great many quotable moments.

  • I don't even own a TV any more -- my computer is my media center. I became addicted to PVR technology in the US when I had DirecTV with TiVO.

    When I moved back to Canada, torrents took the place of the TiVO. I'd become addicted to the idea of watching shows when I want to, instead of on some arbitrary schedule. I expected I'd watch more TV seeing as I could watch it whenever I want, but instead what happened is I started watching less -- a lot less.

    For some reason, once I broke the mentality of "slav

    • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:26AM (#39388917) Homepage Journal

      One thing advertisers don't seem to understand is that I actually like catching a new ad when I watch TV at a friend's place. Many of them are very artistic, cute, and funny.

      But even a good joke told 5-6 times per day wears thin.

      It's the broadcast time that is the majority of the expense for most advertisements, not the creation of the content. Stop torturing people with the same joke 50-60 times per week for a month at a time, and maybe they'll stop skipping over the ads. Show a new ad each day, or at least once a week.

      But stop trying to hammer your "message" into us by repeating yourself ad-nauseum at full volume dozens of times per week. All you're doing is pissing off people and forcing them to use torrents and PVRs to escape your tripe.

      Modern advertising is as annoying and effective as a two or three year old yelling "Mommie, mommie, mommie, can we..." over and over for three hours straight, trying to wear down their parents.

      It's my money in the end. I'm not going to spend it on your products or give it to you just because you nag like a child. In fact, I'm likely to use your competitor's product because they're not insulting my intelligence and harassing me.

      • by msobkow ( 48369 )

        That goes for the companies that set up "newsletters" as well. I can't tell you how many "newsletters" I've subscribed to over the years to keep tabs on a companies products, only to be inundated by weekly "specials" trying to sell me their old stuff, which I've already bought if I wanted it. Needless to say, I've unsubscribed to every single one of those email lists within a month.

        Give me information about new products in your newsletter, not a regurgitated nag to buy last year's model.

      • by Phrogman ( 80473 )

        Well, we dropped our cable (again) about 6 months ago for several reasons.
        The first reason was that there was quite literally nothing I wanted to watch on the channels available. The shows I *do* want to watch are not broadcast here
        The second reason was that at ~$99/mo for basic cable, internet and home telephone through Shaw it was priced well beyond reasonable. When we signed up they gave us 6 months at almost half that price. When that expired we cancelled.
        The third reason was that when you watch a TV sh

        • by msobkow ( 48369 )

          Since they collude to keep the prices high, it still costs about $60/mo just to get decent internet access.

          You can get a basic 1.5Mbit DSL or cable link from SaskTel or Access Cable here in Saskatchewan pretty much anywhere in the province for $25/month, roughly the same price as a land line. Sure I pay for a $60/month upgraded link, but that's because I need upload capacity for work, not because I needed faster downloads or couldn't stream video and audio just fine at 1.5Mbit.

          Faster services are meant

        • If I lived by myself, I'd follow your example.
          I haven't actually timed it, but my gut tells me your 25% statistic is very conservative, I'd swear advertising time is closer to 40%. Maybe not but it sure feels like it, particularly on some channels. One thing I'm sure of, commercial breaks keep growing longer year after year.
          What the hell am I paying for anyway- to watch freakin' commercials?? I'm probably wrong, but wasn't the original idea of cable to watch TV without having to watch advertisements
          • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

            Ever heard of Wrigley field.

            This "advertising problem" is nothing new really.

            It aint the "World Series" because it's supposed to be the world championship...

  • by Nugoo ( 1794744 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:09AM (#39388811)
    I wonder if, someday, I'll hear about a media or tech company doing something that doesn't make me even happier I'm a pirate.
  • by X!0mbarg ( 470366 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:13AM (#39388843)

    Think about it this way: If anyone does try to implement this type of thing, they have to pay Micro$oft for the Patent.
    Now, if they don't wish to put such a financial burden on a system such as this, (thus increasing its cost, and reducing its appeal to the end user), they'd opt to leave such a feature out.
    Active DISCOURAGEMENT of a Bad Idea by Patenting it, so they can actually DENY it to folks, and the right to Sue if anyone actually Infringes!
    Big Oil has been doing this for years, tho: Buying up high fuel efficiency ideas, patenting them, and Denying them to anyone, and suing them into the ground if they try to bypass their patent.

    Not that I'm For such a "feature" on any system I'd subscribe to. This would be a decent way to head such a heinous money-grab off at the pass!

    Maybe "Uncle Bills' Kids" aren't as bad as we all thought...

    That, or I'm simply seeing a possibility that others are far more likely to Implement than avoid...

    In THAT case, say Hello to rampant 'Product Placement' as revenue! After all, I don't see ANYONE wanting a system like this anywhere near their wallet!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So if you replay the advertisement instead of skipping it, you should be charged less for the movie. Yay!

  • I'd pay for the DSN [] channel in addition to my regular ones, and switch to it during the commercials. And leave it to Dogbert to handle Microsoft or whoever the content provider of the advertized channel is.

  • As Apple is kicking themselves that they didn't think of this first. Soon to be announce an Apple TV patent that more intuitively charges you for thinking about skipping a commercial.
  • just get a dish and don't hook it to the phone line.

    Both dish and directv don't force you to hook there boxes to the internet or the phone line any more.

  • So this means they're going to give me the option to pay a little extra and automatically skip commercials right? Right...?

  • Who needs cable ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:32AM (#39388963)

    Even more abuse, and expense, from cable companies? Why do people put up with up?

    You can watch practically anything on the internet. Not to mention services like netflix, hulu, or amazon, for about $8 a month. I have heard of people paying $190 a month for comcast.

    Also, I think there are ways to get HDTV from broadcast signals.

  • Maybe this will catch some flack, but what if they just tracked how many people fast forwarded through what content?. Then you can sell that data back to the content providers. That seems a little less punitive and depending on the spin you give it, almost a value to the consumer.
  • by kpainter ( 901021 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:49AM (#39389097)
    I wonder if they plan use this to charge people for skipping Windows 8?
  • by VargrX ( 104404 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:58AM (#39389159) Journal

    No... I'm going to give you the same answer to this type of garbage that I alway's have:
    READ your TOS - as far as I can tell, and that some laywer friends of mine can tell, and unless there is something specifically stating this in YOUR TOS, You are NOT liable for 'skipping advertising of any kind' when you sign your agreement with your local broadcasting company.

    The advert's are nothing more than a nuisance to most people, and do absolutely nothing except provide for 'snack/bathroom break' time during the show. As far as 'advertisers/distributors /producers' aiming to make thier money back by violating your eyeballs, tough luck, they didn't pay directly for that privelege.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "and do absolutely nothing except provide for 'snack/bathroom break' time during the show" I wonder if Advertising is responsible for the rise in obesity in the US population then? Isn't it a bit like Pavlov/Behavioural ? Once you get up to fix a snack during a break, you ALWAYS get up to fix a snack during a break, except when you are going to the restroom to relieve yourself of the aforementioned snack?
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Problem: Terms Of Service are subject to change. And who reads them anyway?

      I'm going to go out on a limb here and figure that most people who watch the WWE [] or NASCAR [] pay-per-view programs aren't particularly well versed in contract law.

  • by s0litaire ( 1205168 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:27AM (#39389343)

    ...we'll start getting "Drive by Rewinds"

    A bunch of geeks high on red-bull and cheesy puffs in a 4x4 armed to the teeth with universal remote controls.
    Driving the suburbs, Sega beats blaring from their iPhones, aiming their remo's at the houses pressing the rewind button.

    Costing the poor householder $$$ in MS rewind fees...

    • My friend had an annyoing teenage neighbor who kept shooting paintballs at his house. Rather than call the cops, he figured out how to use his remote on the kid's TV, and switched it to the Playboy Channel the instant his mom walked in.
  • ...that stand in the way of widespread (non-geek) acceptance of streaming content. Let's use the diaper commercial as one example: My daughter has long been out of diapers, and I'm not yet in them again, so what is the purpose of watching the commercial? What does the advertiser get from that?

    It comes down to this: If hitting the forward and back buttons are going to start costing me money, I'll find a way to view content where that doesn't apply. The content providers don't yet understand, even after

  • "FUCK YOU, Microsoft". Any other response indicates a fatal lack of resolve against bullshit like this.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.