Hasbro Attempting To Shut Down Scrabulous

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Hasbro Attempting To Shut Down Scrabulous


Board-game manufacturer Facebook [http://www.hasbro.com/], and is taking steps to shut it down.

Fortune [http://www.scrabulous.com/]. But now Hasbro is taking action to have the Facebook application terminated.

"They sent a notice to Facebook about two weeks ago," Jayant said. "The lawyers are working on it." Currently, both the original Scrabulous site and the Facebook application are still available, and Jayant expressed hope that some kind of compromise could be reached, adding, "We're trying to work out some kind of deal."

While Scrabulous does generate large numbers of pageviews on Facebook, Jayant said the game wasn't cranking out massive amounts of money. He said Scrabulous revenues are currently over $25,000 per month, but refused to go into further detail.

Hasbro Electronic Arts [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/75834] that gave it exclusive worldwide rights to publish games based on various boardgame properties, including Scrabble, but there is no indication at this point that EA is involved with the action.


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raigan

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Feb 10, 2007
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Surely you can't patent or copyright something as abstract as the rules of a boardgame? They should just change the name and rearrange the board a bit.
 

King Phar

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Dec 29, 2007
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yeah it's been done and this just sounds stupid that they own a game played world wide like scrabble i mean.
 

Wildcard6

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Dec 14, 2007
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As game mechanics aren't something that are covered by copyright, the rules of Scrabble are open for use. The visual nature of the letters, and particularly the board, ARE subject to copyright and I suspect are central to Hasbro's complaint. They are certainly within their rights to go after whomever they choose, but as the people who will suffer are Scrabble fans, I doubt this is a smart move. I made the same argument when they shut down Google Earth Risk, a couple of years back. Hasbro is an old company and it behaves in a manner consistent with old companies, fighting the massive opportunities of the internet with every tool in their legal arsenal.

Hasbro: "Hey, we just shut down your free online Scrabble game, come pay us to play real scrabble."

Me: "FU, Hasbro."
 

CorvusE

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Sep 13, 2006
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"Some bright person came up with the rules and a board for a game that's now played world-wide, like scrabble. They deserve to get compensation for being able to provide so many people with entertainment."

Yes and in the case of Scrabble and a great many other games under the Hasbro umbrella, they didn't work for Hasbro when they designed the game. Hasbro bought the Scrabble trademark in... I want to say the late 80s or early 90s. The Scrabble concept was designed in the 30s.

I'm all for protecting intellectual rights, but I have it on good authority from more than one source that Hasbro's anti-competitive practices (i.e. aggressively working to ensure they have as little competition from indies as possible) make EA lawyers look like Winne the Pooh.
 

Anton P. Nym

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Sep 18, 2007
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Though I'm hardly one to support Hasbro's predatory tactics, I do have to say that calling a "Scrabble" knock-off "Scrabulous" is kinda baiting that bear. The copyright stand is soft (one would think that the mechanics will have lapsed into the public domain by now, after 75 or so years) but their defense of the trademark is a lot more straightforward.

-- Steve
 

Dom Camus

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Sep 8, 2006
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I know very little about copyright and trademark law, but there's something else happening here which relates more to the way the internet works than to game designs.

I can invite a friend to my house and we could make a Scrabble set from pieces of card inside half an hour and play it as much as we like without paying Hasbro a cent. All the information required to do so is already in the public domain. Hasbro don't care, because they know that most people would rather spend $10 (or however much it is) on a proper set than take the time to make their own inferior set.

But on the internet, a programmer can put in the work to make a copy of the game once (admittedly taking longer) and then make it available to anyone. Free. Suddenly the path of least resistance is no longer to buy a real set, it's to play Scrabulous.

Hasbro themselves are becoming increasing interested in online gaming following the huge success of Magic the Gathering Online. They are definitely not going to turn a blind eye to third parties undermining their revenue opportunities.
 

devilondemand

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Dec 14, 2007
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Well I for one am hoping that Scrabulous is allowed to continue. It's one of the few things that gets me through the boring working day when I'm supposed to be hard at work.