Hasbro Versus Scrabulous

John Musser, January 15th, 2008

For the third time in as many weeks a Facebook application is the subject of controversy (the other two being the Facebook Hoax and the Facebook Spyware). This time around the news comes via Fortune’s Josh Quittner who reports that Hasbro, the company behind Scrabble, wants to shut down the popular web site and Facebook app Scrabulous. Scrabulous started in 2006 when two bothers, Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, created the Scrabble knockoff out of their home in Calcutta, India. It did well that first year but really took off after they ported it to Facebook in June of last year.How popular is it? It’s the 9th most popular Facebook application, has 2.3 million active users and 500K using it every day. And according the Fortune report it has revenues of about $25,000 a month.

This may be the first time Hasbro has enforced copyright or trademark rights on a Facebook app but it’s not the first time they’ve done so with a mashup: back in 2005 we reported on their cease and desist letter shutting down “Risk on a Google Map”. The game, shown below, was one of the earliest mashups listed on ProgrammableWeb.

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One Response to “Hasbro Versus Scrabulous”

January 15th, 2008
at 1:15 pm
Comment by: xf

As you noted, Hasbro has a history of being pretty litigious about defending their trademarks. This whole drama played out on Yahoo Games several years ago; consequently Yahoo has a Scrabble clone game called Literati even though they now appear to now be offering Hasbro’s computer Scrabble for download as well.

I’m surprised that anyone with a background in the history of online Scrabble would have been silly enough to introduce something like this without carefully studying that case first.

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John Musser
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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.