For what it's worth, here's a copy/paste of Tom Miller's reaction on the sudo-users' mailing list this morning:
I've already received a number of questions about US patent 7,617,530
that some people seem to believe might cover sudo. I don't think
that is the case.
My reading of the patent indicates that it is geared towards GUI-based
environments where the user may need to perform some action (such
as setting the clock in a control panel) that requires increased
privileges. The actual "invention" appears to be that the user is
able to perform an action as a different user without having to
type in the name of that other user when authenticating. One example
given in that patent is the ability to click on a name in a list
of privileged users as opposed to having to type in a user name.
Sudo simply doesn't work this way. When a command is run via sudo
the user is actively running the command as a different user. What
is described in the patent is a mechanism whereby an application
or the operating system detects that an action needs to be run with
increased privileges and automatically prompts the user with a list
of potential users that have the appropriate privilege level to
perform the task.