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Summary:

Hasbro and Mattel, the marketers of Scrabble, are accusing the creators of popular Facebook app Scrabulous of violating the copyright on th…

image Hasbro and Mattel, the marketers of Scrabble, are accusing the creators of popular Facebook app Scrabulous of violating the copyright on the 70-year-old word game and are demanding that the social network remove the app from its site, the BBC reported. So far, both Facebook and Scrabulous not commenting. But neither have ceased operating the game, which does at least closely resemble Scrabble. Late Wednesday afternoon, both the Scrabulous site and the Facebook app were accepting new players. The Scrabulous site does explain that it has no affiliation with Scrabble, while encouraging users to buy the Scrabble board game. That’s not enough to mollify Hasbro and Mattel.

Scrabulous, which claims to attract more than 500,000 daily players, was created last year by two brothers in Calcutta. But it didn’t take off until it was added to Facebook a few months ago, where it quickly became one of the top 10 apps. It’s attracted a devoted following: a cursory glance at Facebook shows about a half dozen “Save Scrabulous” groups; the largest one has over 9,000 members.

FT: Scrabble’s ownership is divided between Hasbro, which holds the copyright in the US and Canada, while JW Spear & Sons, a UK-based unit of Mattel, has the intellectual property rights in rest of the world. Aside from Scrabulous’ popularity, a red flag was likely raised when Hasbro and Mattel became aware of Scrabulous’ claim that it earns $25,000 a month in ad revenue. And it seems that Scrabulous’ fans have helped bolster the claims that it was harming Scrabble; as one user who identified herself as “Cat” on Scrabulous’ blog wrote: “I was going to purchase the dvd scrabble but now i decided not. This is much more fun playing.”

  1. on the flip side, I had totally forgotten the game I used to play twenty years ago, until I got started playing it again on Facebook. I've been considering purchasing it again now that I've remembered how fun it is.

    I think it's a dumb move on Scrabble's part, it will only cause hostility toward the company.

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  2. If Apple Mac and Windows Operating systems can get along just fine, why can't Scrabulous and Scrabble. They may look the same on the outside, the rules are not entirely the same – for example, you can do a dictionary lookup of a word before playing on Scrabulous before playing your move – and if you play a wrong word you can change it without penalty. LEARN TO GET ALONG!

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  3. If they want to take over whatever ad revenue the game is bringing in, OK fine. Just don't lose the record of my victories and my games in progress!

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  4. i only play on Scrabulus as there are people to play. I am on my own. I would not buy Scrabble as there in noone to play and Scrabulus gives me a social side to my life i would not get otherwise. Therefore sales in my case would not increase for Scrabble like i suppose is the case for many others.

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  5. Eric Nordstrom Saturday, May 3, 2008

    I don't want to sound crude but screw mattel and hasbro. What ever happened to market competition? Instead of the corporations reaching in and giving everyone a hard time, perhaps the corporations should get a clue and realize that their product stinks.

    Due to their actions, I'll never buy a hasbro or mattel product again.

    Eric Nordstrom

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  6. May not be much Hasbro and Mattel can do in Calcutta. Scrabulous doesn't seem to be in any hurry to take it down. For that kind of income, the brothers could just move the operation to place that would give H&M;the finger for a cut of the income. Hope they hang tough.

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