I recently read about this, and think this is brilliant on both MBOT and SSYS side.
1. Stratasys gains patents that can help hold the tide against open source.
2. Makerbot gets to use technology more quickly than it would by waiting out the fast-expiring patents.
3. There’s a new retail play possible with a combined company/branding decision ( a la DDD and Staples… )
4. If SSYS didn’t do it, they’d be eaten alive by the “generics” coming on market — including MBOT. I don’t think SSYS would survive in that environment — but combined with MBOT, there’s a real chance they can make it.
RepRap isn’t a serious threat to SSYS — the various Prusa’s and the like are too much like MSFT Vs Ubuntu. But MakerBot is a real threat to SSYS — as long as they deliver good printers that work well, at some point, ( probably already ) they eat SSYS’s lunch.
In theory, if a RepRap maker becomes good ( say a la makerbot ), there’s a good chance of a buy out ( especially if that company has a patent or three ).