As a blogger -- and someone who agrees with Shakespeare's quip about what to do with lawyers -- I've got to say that the patent soap opera in the Spend Management world will do little to benefit actual practitioners. Yesterday, Emptoris filed suit against Ariba, alleging infringement on what I've read to be a fairly intricate process patent that was originally filed by Jay Reddy at Mindflow (whose firm Emptoris previously acquired). It's no surprise that Emptoris is suing Ariba, given Ariba's existing suit against Emptoris which as far as I know has not yet been settled. As a non-legal observer in all of this, about the only unexpected thing I've observed so far was that Emptoris had not counter-sued Ariba earlier (and potentially sued them for infringement in the sourcing optimization area, an area where I know Emptoris has also been granted patents). Of course Ariba could probably find another patent to sue Emptoris on as well. But who really benefits in all of this? Certainly not customers!
As a final aside ... when IBM comes knocking on the doors of both Ariba and Emptoris, I'm sure they'll find infringement given their 40,000+ patents. Within that mountain of filings and grants, I'm sure someone has a process patent on typing on a keyboard or making eye contact with a supplier during a negotiation.