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Hasbro Takes Scrabulous Brothers To Court; Launches Scrabble On Facebook With Geo-Limiting

Months after serving them a legal notice, Hasbro decided to sue RJ Softwares, the makers of Scrabulous, developed by Kolkata based brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla. They’ve also sent Facebook a DMCA notification, citing copyright violation. Facebook will have to remove Scrabulous, else face legal action as well. Also remember that Scrabulous is live on Orkut as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Google / Orkut receives a DMCA notification.

Hasbrok has filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, reports Reuters; Hasbro’s General Counsel Barry Nagler has said: “We view the Scrabulous application as clear and blatant infringement of our Scrabble intellectual property, and we are pursuing this legal action in accordance with the interests of our shareholders, and the integrity of the Scrabble brand.”

Comparison Between Scrabulous And Scrabble
If this were it were a popularity content, Scrabulous would have won already. Take a look at the facebook usage comparison below, between Scrabulous, the Scrabble-like game from Kolkata based brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, and Scrabble – the game from Hasbro & Mattel:

Note that the US and Canada rights of Scrabble are licensed to Electronic Arts, hence this game from them, and this one from GameHouse. One should, also keep in mind that the Official versions of Scrabble went live earlier this month, and Scrabulous has been around since 2006. Given the lawsuit, reviews of Scrabble are simply on the lines of “Scrabulous was better”, “Pigs” and “Just Sour Grapes”. Note that Scrabulous has more fans than Scrabble on Facebook.

Scrabble Faces Issues With Geo Limiting Due To Split Licensing Of Rights
I’m tempted to say that the better product should win, but given the way Scrabble is evolving, it’s not really a fair competition. Scrabulous has evolved – gone beyond Facebook to email, developed a Blitz (time-limited) version, as well as a practice game module. Meanwhile, the beta version of Scrabble has a poor rating (between 1-2 out of 5) and faces multiple complaints from users – it is slow to load, slow to play, and most importantly, the geographic licenses apply.

A user rightly complains that his mom lives in Canada, and he lives in New Zealand, and they can’t play against each other. Others call the geo-limiting retrograde to ‘divide the world between North America and Canada and “THE REST OF THE WORLD”.’ Mostly bad reviews here. Whatever the outcome of the case, Hasbro and Mattel will have to get their act together.

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