Friday, January 18, 2008

Is Scrabble right to shut down Scrabulous?

The companies behind Scrabble have asked Facebook to shut down the popular Facebook appplication Scrabulous (you can also play it on its own website here) because it infringes their copyright. From BBC:
Scrabulous is currently one of Facebook's ten most popular applications - little programs that Facebook members can add to the profiles they maintain on the site.

The request to remove the add-on came from both Hasbro and Mattel because ownership of the Scrabble trademark is split between the two. Hasbro owns rights to the game in the US and Canada while Mattel has rights everywhere else in the world.

Facebook told the PA newswire that it had no comment to make at this stage.

The Scrabulous add-on was not created by Facebook but was built for the site by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla - software developers based in Calcutta.
I have yet to play Scrabulous on my Facebook (really) but I'm sure it is as fun as playing the real Scrabble. Scrabulous is a very popular Facebook app with 603,014 daily active users. Instead of forcing the shutdown of Scrabulous, I think Mattel and Hasbro should have worked with the Scrabulous founders instead - either by asking them to make Scrabulous an official Scrabble entity or have Scrabble become the main sponsor for the app. Only after failing in those areas, should Mattel and Hasbro get their lawyers and sue the living daylights out of those two Indian founders. Scrabble has this big chance to get its product and branding across to these 603,014 users (and growing) on Facebook. By shutting down Scrabulous and angering all its thousands of users, it may have just lost this huge Facebook marketing opportunity. And that unfortunately is a bad business decision.

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