Facebook Blocks Scrabulous Worldwide

The social networking site's ban on the word game follows a legal dispute between the game's creators and Hasbro.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

August 26, 2008

2 Min Read

Facebook has blocked users around the globe from using Scrabulous, an online game similar to Scrabble.

The social networking site blocked access for U.S. and Canadian users in July after Hasbro sued Scrabulous creators Rajat Agarwalla and Jayant Agarwalla, as well as their offshore software and Web services company. Last week, it blocked users from most countries from accessing Scrabulous after a second company issued a takedown notice.

Hasbro, which owns the rights to Scrabble in North America, said in a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York that Scrabulous infringed on its intellectual property. The toy and game company called Scrabulous a "clear and blatant" copy that uses essential and original elements of the famous board game.

Mattel owns the rights to Scrabble in nearly 120 other countries, including India, where it has asked a court to stop the Agarwalla brothers and their company from distributing the game. Facebook users in India can still access Scrabulous but the social networking site has blocked the application in other countries.

Hasbro said that the names "Scrabble" and "Scrabulous" are "confusingly similar." Hasbro is seeking damages, legal costs, and prohibition of the online game. Hasbro also argued in legal papers that the Agarwalla brothers conceded copying their game when they said, "It's not really different."

Both the traditional board game, Scrabble, and the online game, Scrabulous, give players square tiles with letters and award points for forming words with the tiles. They also use a neutral background with some pink, dark blue, and light blue squares, where players can earn extra points on their letters or words.

After Scrabulous became popular among members of social networking sites, an official online version of Scrabble was released on Facebook.

Then, the makers of Scrabulous launched Wordscraper, which they call a "new wordgame," on Facebook. The main features that differentiate it from Scrabulous and Scrabble are circular tiles, the opportunity to earn quadruple points, and the ability to choose where extra points can be earned.

When Scrabulous disappeared from North America, its creators said they voluntarily took the game offline, but this time the social networking site made the decision.

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