back to article Lawsuit spells trouble for Facebook's Scrabulous

Toy omnicorp Hasbro is setting the legal dogs on Scrabulous, the Facebook-based Scrabble knock-off popular with timewasting desk jockeys worldwide. As well as suing Indian developer brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla for copyright infringement, Hasbro has fired off a DMCA to Facebook demanding it remove the game from its …


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  1. Richard Gadsden

    Other Hasbro games?

    Scrabble isn't the only Hasbro game on Facebook, there's Diplomacy (acquired from Avalon Hill) amongst others. if anyone cares.

  2. Mark
    Thumb Down


    Uh, HOW DUMB would you have to be to mix "Scrabble(tm)" with Scrabulous?

    Hell, we have "weetabix" and "wheaties" and nobody is mixing them up and thinking "Oh, god! I've got the wrong one!!!!".

    The suit is purely so Hasbro can spend money on lawyers that will come out of the profit of a marginally profitable line. Parasitic wankers.

  3. Ru
    Thumb Down

    Re: Uh, HOW DUMB would you have to be to mix "Scrabble(tm)" with Scrabulous?

    Maybe I could make an operating system that looks and feels vaguely similar to that produced by a certain redmond company. I'll call it 'Bindows'. I mean, how dumb would you have to be to confuse that with someone else's product?


    You can't just steal and copy someone else's product and rename it. Just because you're not abusing their trademark doesn't mean you're in the clear.

  4. David Cornes
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    Erm, let's see the game looks like Scrabble, has pretty much the same rules, and is called "Scrabulous" presumably as a play on the words "Fabulous" and "Scrabble". So are you suggesting that the developers could've just thought up the game entirely themselves, but it just resembles the Hasbro one?

    No it's quite clearly a case of copyright infringement. Firstly stupid of the developers to have not considered this, particularly when it took off. Sad of Hasbro to have not gone for the higher ground of licensing, taking a (substantial?) cut of any revenue, and looking like the good guys to all those Facebookers who'll now just think of them as a big mean bunch of lawyer happy fogeys.

  5. Leo Maxwell

    no surprises, the PC version of scrabble is virtually unplayable

    Ubisoft made a serious hash of the PC version of scrabble

    It is almost unplayable.(which is why it is selling below 10 UKP in most stores)

    My wife is a scrabble addict, and gave up in disgust after a couple of hours.

    She plays it on an old Sharp Zaurus PDA

    The free "demo" version is the most intuitive she has found.

    She has not tried scrabulous, but it would be difficult to be worse than the "official" version.

    Hasbro should spend the money on producing a playable version.

  6. Dave The Cardboard Box

    2000 hours spent on developing online Buckaroo down the drain

    I'm looking for backers for my next game. "Get the small ball-bearings into the eyes of a clown-on line".

  7. Phil Tanner

    More sales?

    What they're perhaps missing here is that I know at least 5 people personally who have, as a direct result of playing Scrabulous on Facebook, gone out and purchased Scrabble boards to play with family & friends IRL.

    It would be very interesting to see the sales trends before and since Scrabulous launched - although Hasbro marketeers would no doubt say something along the lines of "Scrabble was already on a resurgance and Scrabulous has simply taken sales away from what would have been an almost atmospheric rise in sales".


  8. Donn Bly

    @David Cornes

    I don't think that anybody is trying to say with a straight face that someone's rights aren't being infringed, however, Hasbro doesn't own the rights to the game in the geographic area in which "Scrabulous" was developed -- Mattel does. Therefore, you would think that Mattel would be the ones going after them. Hasbro only own the rights in the USA and Canada, Mattel has the rights everywhere else.

    If I were Mattel, I would buy the rights to Scrabulous (now at a fire-sale price, since Hasbro is killing the market, Maybe $1 plus indemnification against future suits...) and then republish it under the Mattel name and tell Hasbro "Thanks for getting us all of the free advertising to our new online game".

    Regional distribution rights in a marketplace where there are no geographic lines to enforce make this an interesting situation.

  9. Chris

    Do they have a case?

    On the one hand this seems like a cut and dried case, but can they actually do this? As far as I knew the concept of a game and its rules isn't copyrightable, only the assets that go along with it, the wording of the instructions and so on. This is how games like Sea3D get away with aping Settlers of Catan, they're fine unless they reuse the tile graphics or any of the blurb (including the name Catan).

    Scrabble's only real asset was the patent they had on the little triangles on the edges of the bonus squares that let you see what's under a tile after it's been placed. Or am I reading this wrong?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Hasbro, the M$ of the toy and game world

    For those who are not in the know about the goings on in the toy and game industry, Hasbro has been the 200lb Gorilla in the Game industry the past number of years. They have bought up and killed a large sector of the gaming hobby as we knew it with their management level bean counter methodologies.

    For those who used to play D&D and AD&D when it was still in the hands of the creators, sadly that has gone to the wayside to become an iteration of WoW on the tabletop needing net access and fees to Hasbro to "look after" your characters for you. These same people who cant even run a decent online database yet. Thats your IT angle right there. Marketing based on short cycle general kiddy's toys that were generally bough and paid for by young adults with disposable income for high end games. Avalon Hill, TSR to name but two of their bigger acquisitions/inquisitions.

    The bulldozing and dumping of the original TSR game library that contained pretty much everything produced that TSR could get their hands on for research purposes (and being game geeks didnt hurt) was a tragedy due to the Smithsonian/Library of Congress not having copies in their archives.

    Unhappy face only cause it was a tossup between that, dead birds, and evil Gates (redundant I know)

    Anonymous only because Hasbro knows me >_> and I still have friends in there.

  11. Adrian
    Paris Hilton


    Great idea for a website.

    Get lots of losers with no real friends who spend all their time on a computer rather than in the real world. Give them a free platform to announce to other losers about how big a loser they are. Maybe chuck in some mini-gamelets (c) .

    Since I'm just hosting it for free, I'm just the dumb middleman so no one can sue me (!!!) for copyright infringement.

    So, 1st up is Paris (for the icon, not cos she keeps losing her underwear on nights out)

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