Hasbro Lawsuit Spells Trouble for Scrabulous

July 25, 2008 04:00 PM
by Anne Szustek
The owner of Scrabble is suing the creators of the popular Facebook application Scrabulous for intellectual property infringement. But is Hasbro making the right move?

30-Second Summary

Calcutta-based software creators Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, both Scrabble aficionados, developed Scrabulous when their favorite online version of the game began to charge users. The brothers first launched a Web site for their version, but the game’s popularity surged when they released it as a Facebook application.

Scrabulous uses the same board design and scoring system as Scrabble, among other uncanny similarities. “The ‘Rules of Scrabulous’ section of Scrabulous’ FAQ even redirects to the Wikipedia page for Scrabble,” writes CNet’s Caroline McCarthy.

Jayant Agarwalla is quoted on Fortune magazine’s Techland blog saying, “I’m not sure why Hasbro actually picked on this,” noting that there are numerous online versions of Scrabble, including the one that provided inspiration for his own.

The main difference is that Scrabulous gets some 512,000 hits per day. And the timing is not arbitrary either: Electronic Arts, which owns the U.S. and Canadian rights for Scrabble, released a beta version for Facebook last week that Time magazine called “slow and clunky.”

But is a lawsuit really the most strategic business move during the Internet age? Sophie Heawood of The Independent notes that many Scrabulous players have purchased the Scrabble board game after developing a cyber-addiction to the lexical puzzle. And Fortune’s Josh Quittner said if he were Hasbro and noticed someone developing an electronic version of one of his games, “Once it got to scale, I’d sweep in and take it over.”

Headline Link: ‘Hasbro’s Legal War on Scrabulous’

Video & Audio: Scrabble makers launch their own Facebook version; Hasbro lawsuit against Scrabulous

Background: Scrabulous

Opinion & Analysis: Is Scrabble making the right move?


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