Dan Lockton is a designer persuing an advanced degree in the Technology Policy program at Cambridge-MIT in the UK. His dissertation project addresses the increasing role of controls built into products, labeled as 'features' that "restrict or enforce modes of behaviour or use on the part of the consumer, often in ways with parallels in software licensing techniques and digital rights management." Examples range from printer cartridges that 'expire' on a given date whether they are used or not to cars with hoods that can only be opened by the dealer to the lowly cone-shaped water cup that encourages users to throw empties in the trash rather than leaving them standing around.
It is a topic with many implications for designers as the line between products and services becomes increasingly porous. He is actively seeking input from the design community. Check his web site on the project for contact information and a bunch of great links.