Hasbro Finally S-U-E-S Over Scrabulous

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Hasbro Finally S-U-E-S Over Scrabulous

Fri Jul 25, 2008 @ 01:43PM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

Scrabbleletters_2 Hasbro looked hard at the board and after more than a half a year of squabbling, finally figured out how to spell "lawsuit." The maker of Scrabble is suing two Indian brothers behind the popular Facebook application Scrabulous, claiming the game infringes the company’s intellectual property. It's hoping for triple-word-score damages.

Scrabulous, which let its users play an online simulation of the popular board game Scrabble, has earned a devoted following of more than 840,000 users and its removal sparked a tremendous “Save Scrabulous” backlash.

Legal experts point to the Copyright Office’s guidelines on the copyrighting of board games to note that the “underlying idea of a game can’t be copyrighted.” Certain bits of expression, like the board game diagram and the tile pieces, are copyrightable,  but Hasbro’s best claim may be on trademark rights.

The key question is what happens to Facebook. Hasbro asked Facebook to remove the game under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For a while, it seemed the company had complied but the game popped up again.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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