Monday, July 28, 2008

Hasbro takes Facebook game Scrabulous to C-O-U-R-T [United States]

Game-making giant Hasbro has filed a lawsuit against Scrabble knock-off Scrabulous and sent a notice demanding Facebook remove the popular game from the social-networking website. was launched by brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla in India in 2005 and rocketed to popularity as a free "add-on" application for Facebook, where more than 500,000 people reportedly play the online word game daily.

Toy and game manufacturers Hasbro and Mattel, which share ownership of the Scrabble trademark, asked Facebook in January to remove the renegade online version of its game from the website.
On Thursday, Hasbro presented the request to Facebook in the form of a demand backed by US law regarding copyright infringement on the Internet.
Hasbro also filed a lawsuit against Scrabulous and the Agarwalla brothers in federal district court in New York. "Facebook has tried to use its status as neutral platform provider to help the parties come to an amicable agreement," the California-based website said in response to an AFP inquiry. "We're disappointed that Hasbro has sought to draw us into their dispute; nevertheless, we have forwarded their concerns to Scrabulous and requested their appropriate response."

The lawsuit is weak leverage against the brothers, since Scrabulous lists no assets in the United States and a court decision here would need backing by India's legal system to be enforced. "Our hope and expectation is that the parties can resolve their disagreements in a manner that satisfies the parties, that continues to offer a great experience to gamers and that doesn't discourage other developers from using our platform to share creativity and test new ideas," Facebook said.
The Agarwallas have said in public reports that they expect fans to remain loyal to Scrabulous, from which the siblings earn advertising revenues. Filing of the civil suit comes a week after videogame colossus Electronic Arts released, with Hasbro's blessing, a free online Scrabble game customized for Facebook websites in the United States and Canada.

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